Ecology

The vegetation in the Vancouver area was originally temperate rain forest, consisting of conifers with scattered pockets of maple and alder and large areas of swampland (even in upland areas, due to poor drainage). The conifers were a typical coastal British Columbia mix of Douglas fir, western red cedar and western hemlock. The area is thought to have had the largest trees of these species on the British Columbia Coast. Only in Elliott Bay, Seattle, did the size of trees rival those of Burrard Inlet and English Bay. The largest trees in Vancouver’s old-growth forest were in the Gastown area, where the first logging occurred and on the southern slopes of False Creek and English Bay, especially around Jericho Beach. The forest in Stanley Park was logged between the 1860s and 1880s and evidence of old-fashioned logging techniques such as springboard notches can still be seen there. Many plants and trees growing throughout Vancouver and the Lower Mainland were imported from other parts of the continent and from points across the Pacific. Examples include the monkey puzzle tree, the Japanese maple and various flowering exotics, such as magnolias, azaleas and rhododendrons. Some species imported from harsher climates in Eastern Canada or Europe have grown to immense sizes. The native Douglas maple can also attain a tremendous size. Many of the city’s streets are lined with flowering varieties of Japanese cherry trees donated from the 1930s onward by the government of Japan. These flower for several weeks in early spring each year, an occasion celebrated by the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Other streets are lined with flowering chestnut, horse chestnut and other decorative shade trees.