UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The preservation of urban woodlands : a case study of the University Endowment Lands, Vancouver, B.C. Rida, Carmen Riina


The goal of this thesis was to show how urban woodlands play an important function in meeting the recreational, educational and other needs of urban populations, enhancing the quality of life in the city. This was achieved in four steps: (1) by describing the historical evolution of the establishment of trees and woodlands in cities, which occurred as urban populations, particularly in Europe, came to perceive trees and woodlands as a necessary and integral component of urban landscapes; (2) by establishing a comprehensive rationale for the preservation of urban woodlands, based on their important function in providing contact with nature and associated benefits that may otherwise be unavailable to urban populations, yet necessary for an enhanced quality of life in built-up urban environments; (3) by looking at various examples of urban woodlands and forest parks that have been established in various cities but especially in Europe, showing how these cities have recognized the value of integrating woodlands into urban environments and ensuring that urban residents are able to take advantage of the many opportunities they provide; and (4) by undertaking a case study of a local example of an urban woodland, the University Endowment Lands (UEL) woodland in Vancouver, British Columbia, and examining its natural attributes and opportunities to users which make it valuable as a recreational and educational resource, and therefore, worthy of preservation. The UEL woodland is a potential future urban forest park, pending the settlement of current discussions and negotiations over the status and allocation of this vacant Crown land. It was concluded that as an urban forest park, the UEL would not only complement the present urban woodland system of the Greater Vancouver area but also stand out as a unique urban natural area with few parallels elsewhere in urbanized North America, perhaps even the world. Its size and location within a completely urbanized area, combined with its extensive forest cover on primarily level or gently undulating topography, are enough to make the UEL woodland unique, but it also features canyons and cliffs, meadows, water courses, and a diversity of vegetation and habitat types growing in a relatively undisturbed state, with development limited only to a network of well-maintained trails in the forest, and access roads through the forest to the university. Thus, the UEL woodland provides a contrasting experience to the other urban forests and forest parks of Greater Vancouver, and if it is preserved, the opportunity exists to create an urban woodland park unparalleled in scenic and natural values, social benefits, and educational and recreational opportunities.

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