British Columbia

Ancient Forest Alliance offering Stanley Park tree tours in Mandarin, Cantonese

The Ancient Forest Alliance is training volunteers to offer Stanley Park nature walks in Mandarin and Cantonese in hopes of diversifying its campaign to protect old growth forests in the province.

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Ken Wu, with the Ancient Forest Alliance, trains volunteer guides who speak Mandarin or Cantonese as part of a new engagement plan to help protect old growth forests in B.C. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

B.C.'s Ancient Forest Alliance is hoping to draw Chinese language speakers to its cause by offering Stanley Park nature tours in Mandarin and Cantonese.

"Our goal is to expand the ancient forest movement," said Ken Wu with the alliance on Saturday, as he walked through the park with a small team of potential guides.

"I think in the Lower Mainland, the most important way we can help protect old growth forests is to engage a massive chunk of the population which we haven't engaged in the past."

According to 2011 Canadian census data, close to 350,000 Metro Vancouver residents say they speak a Chinese language.

While Stanley Park is a protected space with massive, old growth trees, the goal from the alliance is to teach more Chinese-Canadians about the trees' history and importance, ecologically, across the province.

Ken Wu with the Ancient Forest Alliance hopes to draw Chinese language speakers to Stanley Park to become advocates for old growth forests across B.C. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

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"The goal here will be to increase the level of conservation and awareness so that people can take part in democracy and make sure their voices are heard for protection of the unprotected ancient forest," Wu said.

"They are vital for the climate, for endangered species, for clean water, for tourism, for First Nations' culture."

Wu, along with others from the alliance, hope to show off Stanley Park's Tatlow and Lovers trails, where four-metre-wide, 800-year-old red cedars still stand.

The volunteer guides are being trained in English, but will then work with translators from the Hua Foundation to create materials to be able to conduct the specialized tours in either Mandarin or Cantonese.

Wu hopes the walks could commence as early as December and, if successful, be expanded to the Walbran Valley, Avatar Grove, Eden Grove, and Echo Lake Ancient forests.

With files from Jacy Schindel.