State of the Park: Report on the Ecological Integrity of Stanley Park

The Stanley Park Ecological Society (SPES) has released its 2010 State of the Park Report for the Ecological Integrity of Stanley Park. This project emerged following the 2006-07 windstorms. As the Park Board and other community stakeholders began to sort out how to respond to the freshly wind-torn landscape, they realized that there was very limited information on the ecological conditions of the peninsula.

SPES undertook this collaborative project to help fill in this knowledge gap. The report includes a bevy of scientific information about the ecology of Stanley Park, courtesy of a number of different research partners, including the Vancouver Park Board, UBC Forest Sciences Department, Parks Canada, and many others. I was pleased to have the opportunity to contribute some environmental history research to the report from my own work on Stanley Park.

Oxypoda stanleyi, a new species of beetle first discovered in Stanley Park.

The report constitutes the most comprehensive scientific study of the environment of Stanley Park and has vastly expanded our knowledge of this place. The extent of this inventorial scientific research is best illustrated by the discovery of two previously unknown species of beetles: Oxypoda stanleyi and Sonoma squashorum.

With this new knowledge, however, comes the challenge of applying the findings from this study to future park policy and planning. SPES hopes that the report will “serve as the sound basis for a future Stanley Park Master Plan and provide a step towards the long-term maintenance and restoration of the Park’s ecological health and biodiversity.” This is not the first time in the history of Stanley Park that scientific research has guided park policy, but hopefully this report provides a base of knowledge to help inform better decisions about how we can live, work, and play in this environment.

Click here to read the full report.

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The Simpsons in Stanley Park

A couple of weeks ago, The Simpsons aired their episode about the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. Although they didn’t mention it by name, Bart and Lisa visited Stanley Park! You can clearly see the Lord Stanley statue which stands near the Coal Harbour entrance and some of the totem poles (which are actually located elsewhere in the park).

I couldn’t resist posting this.

Kheraj Speaking at City of Vancouver Archives Fundraiser

siwash rock postcard 1908

Postcard of Siwash Rock, Stanley Park

If you’re looking for something to do this Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm, I hope you might find your way to the Joyce Walley Learning Centre at the Vancouver Museum for the Friends of the Vancouver City Archives Fundraiser.

I will be speaking at this event about my research on the environmental history of Stanley Park. My talk, titled “Inventing Stanley Park: An Environmental History”, will examine the history of Vancouver’s landmark urban park from its distant geological past to the present.

For the full PDF event listing, click here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009
2pm to 4pm at

The Joyce Walley Learning Centre in
The Vancouver Museum at 1100 Chestnut Street

The Origins of Forest Management in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC

Last year, I published an article in BC Studies on the origins of forest management policy for Vancouver’s Stanley Park titled “Improving Nature: Remaking Stanley Park’s Forest, 1888-1931”. This article is based on research from my dissertation on the environmental history of Stanley Park.

Insect Invasion in Stanley Park

Newspaper cartoon depicting insect attack on Stanley Park in 1914.

As a result of the threat of fire and a series of devastating insect and fungus outbreaks in the early twentieth century, the Vancouver Park Board employed the expertise of federal forest entomologists to improve the visual condition of Stanley Park in order to conform with a more aesthetically pleasing park landscape, consistent with popular expectations of idealized wilderness. By 1931, the board adopted a formal forest management policy based on decades of work by the Department of Agriculture’s entomological division that included brush clearance, tree-topping, Douglas fir reforestation, and aerial insecticide spraying. These policies remade Stanley Park’s forest in an attempt to improve nature in the park.

The article is now available for digital download and I’d be glad to hear what you think. Please download a copy and send me your thoughts, comments, and criticisms. You can post your comments here or send me a private message.

Download the article here.