Save the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park

Comments 10 by Rebecca Bollwitt

A few months ago the Park Board met to discuss the fate of the Hollow Tree in Stanley Park as it began to lean – becoming a safety hazard for visitors to its site. The results of this meeting in March had the Park Board come to the conclusion that there were only two options, the first would be to build a quarter-million dollar cage around the tree to prop it up, and the second would be to knock it down.

Leaning Hollow Tree

I had a poll on my blog regarding the 40ft tall red cedar and many were in favour of whatever was most natural given the options at the time.

On Monday I picked up the Georgia Straight and found a small blurb about a group from who believed that the Park Board did not explore every possible solution. They brought in experts, arborists, consultants, engineers and produced an extensive report as they were unsure the Park Board considered every option possible when they came to their conclusion.

Photo: SqueakyMarmot on Flickr

The Hollow Tree is listed on the Vancouver Heritage Registry (like those plaques you can spot on the side of old building downtown). This is not just a tree but actually a protected piece of nature and as such for any significant changes a meeting must be held with the Heritage Committee. The goal of the report would be to find an option that best preserves the historic value of the tree as this step was overlooked by the Park Board.

A report was presented to the Park Board on June 9th which contained a safe, upright, and practically invisible way to keep the Hollow Tree in its place using some degree of reinforcement – something that would be far more secure and pleasing to the eye than the current Frankenstein-like mess supporting it right now. They even looked into moving it if they no longer wants it in Stanley Park however, the report was ultimately shot down.

Yesterday I had the chance to speak with Lorne Whitehead, Leader of Education Innovation at the University of British Columbia. Lorne, who helped coordinate the team of experts for the report, gave me background on the tree, and the Park Board meetings. “We don’t see a reason not to keep it up,” he said. The report shows that it can remain as-is safely, while being cost-effective, and so that we can all continue to marvel at this wonder of nature.

Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Lorne said the form of support right now would be to visit the website and read up on the matter (and download the report in PDF). There’s no way to tell the next time this will come up on the Park Board meeting agenda but from independent surveys and public interest, it seems most cherish its heritage value and natural majesty and believe the Hollow Tree should not be tossed into the chipper.

[poll ended]

Update: The UBC Botanical Gardens put an offer into the Park Board to take the tree and display it upright. The Park Board (or members at least since I don’t believe there was a meeting) rejected the offer this afternoon and would still like to keep it in the park in “one or two pieces” to use for ecological and educational purposes (Report from the CBC)

10 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Tyler IngramWednesday, June 25th, 2008 — 12:05pm PDT

    The only thing I can think of would be to reseat the tree. Make it upright again, but in it current state is looks hideous. Metal cables wrapped around it with bolted plates?

    If they can restore it like the SaveTheHollowTree website states then I am all for it but if not then just let it go!

    To be a tourist and see the tree wrapped in cables and bolted with plates looks bad is a bit of an eye sore. Did I mention the blue fencing that looks haphazardly placed around the tree to keep people from disturbing it more

    Last I looked the tree isn’t very tall either or complete.. it reminds me of a skeleton of a tree.

  2. ColleenWednesday, June 25th, 2008 — 1:05pm PDT

    Dosen’t everyone have something better to worry about. There is real pain, and tragedy in this world, and everyone is worried about a dead tree. fall the tree, and let nature recycle it. I am sure all numbers of flora would thrive on the decaying giant. Spend your time ,effort and money on something worthwhile.

  3. TawcanWednesday, June 25th, 2008 — 5:21pm PDT

    Why are we spending tons of money & time on a dead tree when there are thousands of trees dying else where in BC due to pine beetles?

  4. RaulThursday, June 26th, 2008 — 9:32pm PDT

    Ok, so while I work in the environmental field, I’m not by any stretch of the imagination, an expert in tree biology. I just want to comment that I read on the Metro Vancouver today that UBC indeed offered to take the tree to their campus. If this is the case, then I think it should be done. I am not sure about the cost, I’m not sure if UBC would foot the bill, but remember that the tree is not only a physical entity. There are cultural and societal elements embodied in the preservation of the Hollow Tree as an iconic component of Stanley Park.

    There is a really interesting book that touches precisely on this topic (it’s not a new book, actually it is a classic of environmental ethics)

    Should Trees Have Standing?: Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects by Christopher D. Stone

    I am not a fan of diverting resources for useless purposes, but I for one DO NOT THINK that investing some money in preserving the tree and moving it to UBC is a bad option. I actually think that we could even bring local (West End) businesses, the local government, UBC and other organizations together to split the cost of relocating it to UBC if that’s even an issue.

    The important thing is – it’s not ONLY a dead tree.

  5. Tree PlanterSunday, June 29th, 2008 — 6:42am PDT

    Great article… and don’t forget the benefits that planting a tree will have on the environment. Each one will soak up 20kgs of CO2 every year and put enough Oxygen back in the atmosphere to support 2 people.

  6. Rosa DinglerTuesday, July 8th, 2008 — 10:55pm PDT

    Check out these pictures from the US I-5 Freeway rest area at exit 207 from Seattle north to Vancouver.
    The Americans succeeded in preserving their ancient hollow tree using simple technology. The tree in quesrtion can be found on the US I-5 Freeway rest area at exit 207 from Seattle north to Vancouver. I am confident that UBC engineers could achieve this same end by invoking similar technology.
    I have the photos. If you are interested please e-mail me at [email protected] and I will send them as an attachment.

  7. Marcin HibnerSaturday, January 17th, 2009 — 11:01pm PST

    Plant a new baby tree or make a fiberglass replica, the moss will cover the replica over time.I love Stanley Park every body should quit driving their stinkin vehicles so people can jog in fresh air.

  8. cloverdale traditional schoolWednesday, February 11th, 2009 — 4:02pm PST

    hello! i am in grade 5 and i just wanted to say. if we plant a new tree it won’t be hollow anymore and it still won’t be the samee!
    they need to make it better pleeeaaaseee don’t cut down a landmark treee i still need to get a picture taken with it

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