This post has been contributed by Louise Pedersen of the Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”). I have been following SPES since I moved into the West End almost eight years ago and I recently became a member. I wanted to offer Louise and her team an opportunity to share their news, events, and work so I have created “SPES Saturday” where they will be contributing stories with my audience once a month.
Stanley Park: World’s Most Beautiful Park
To Vancouverites it may not come as a big surprise that the world loves Stanley Park too, but it makes us nevertheless a little proud when magazines like Travel + Leisure in their May issue enlists “our” park among the ten most beautiful parks in the world.
And what’s not to love for the eight million locals and tourists who visit the park every year. Within a short walk from downtown, we have 400 acres of lush temperate rainforest, a myriad of forest trails that wind their way through the park and past giant ferns and towering red cedar, hemlock and Douglas fir trees, and an 8km long seaside promenade – the most popular recreational facility in Vancouver.
But Stanley Park is more than just nature “bling”; it’s a place many of us turn to again and again to spend time in nature, for a fresh breath of air and to get away from traffic noise and the many distractions that are part and parcel of living in a big city. As a significant green “island” in an urban landscape, the Park is also a home to an astonishing diversity of wildlife species, including at least 30 mammals, 236 birds, 10 amphibians and 72 freshwater and marine fish. The most noticeable difference between Stanley Park and more remote natural areas is the absence of large mammals such as deer, wolves, bears and cougars; however coyotes, river otters and beavers all thrive in the park.
With Vancouver celebrating birds all week during the city’s inaugural Bird Week, it’s appropriate to highlight Stanley Park as a bird lover’s paradise. The summer breeding bird populations are diverse and plentiful. The park is not only home to nesting pairs of bald eagles and an expansive great blue heron colony; it is also a nursery for songbirds, owls, and many other species. Its winter seashore is teeming with thousands of waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds, and a short hop over to Lost Lagoon will provide a view of freshwater species. As Vancouver is on the Pacific Flyway, fall and spring migration are exciting times in the park with flocks of warblers, birds of prey and the occasional rarities passing through.
During this 125th anniversary year of Stanley Park, let’s send a appreciative nod to Lord Stanley and the newly formed Vancouver City Council who in 1888, when Vancouver was home to just 2,600 inhabitants, designating the area as a public park. This park truly is a gem to us and the rest of the world, who come here to visit.
Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”) is based in the Park, and with the help of our members and supporters we make a difference for wildlife throughout the Park by directly tackling their habitat needs through habitat restoration, monitoring and conservation action as well as by providing scientific information that help Park managers create better management plans.
Every year, we give over 20,000 children and adults opportunities for learning about nature on their doorstep through our weekly public events, school programs, Young Naturalist’s Club or by visiting the Stanley Park Nature House on Lost Lagoon, Vancouver’s only ecology centre. Through our popular volunteering program, more than 1,200 locals learn new skills, improve their CV and meet like-minded people every year.
To find out more SPES, including our weekly events in the Park, opening hours of the Nature House and volunteering opportunities, visit the website and follow @StanleyPkEcoSoc on Twitter. Upcoming events: Insect Superheroes on Sunday, May 12th; Mosses and Lichens on Sunday, May 19th; Community Invasive Species Management (Volunteer) on Saturday, May 25th; Birds of a Feather at Lost Lagoon Nature House on Sunday, May 26th.