125-year-old Douglas Fir was cut down in Aldergrove. (Carleigh Johnston/Special to the Star)

125-year-old Douglas Fir was cut down in Aldergrove. (Carleigh Johnston/Special to the Star)

Aldergrove residents voice their concerns on removal of long-standing trees

‘This loss of natural space is shattering to me and my students,’ Carleigh Johnston said

Aldergrove residents are voicing their concerns about tree removal around the community – particularly an area behind Parkside School.

Carleigh Johnston wrote that a 125-year-old Douglas fir tree was cut down on Feb. 5.

“This tree was alive when the Klondike Gold Rush began, during both World Wars it resiliently grew towards the sun, all through the Winnipeg General Strike, when Henderson scored a goal in Moscow, while the Wright brothers figured out the secrets of getting humans into airplanes, and any student who ever attended school in Aldergrove, this tree stood, stately above all the rest, rooted deeply on the slope north of Philip Jackman Park,” Johnston wrote in a letter.

Resident Liz Pahlke expressed that she was extremely upset that no effort was made to preserve this magnificent tree.

“In this era of climate change, I find the clear-cutting of this site very disturbing,” she said. “I realize the developer is mandated to plant some replacement trees, however, old trees store more carbon in proportion to their size than young trees.”

Township Media Relations explained that tree and bush removal in the Township is done for many reasons including public safety, invasive species management, infrastructure development, and residential private property development.

READ MORE: LETTER: The last straw

“All tree removal in the Township follows a process – a detailed application is submitted, a review by an Arborist is done, several factors are considered, and decisions are made following the Township’s Tree Protection Bylaw,” a spokesperson told the Aldergrove Star. “This also includes a stipulation that requires tree replanting, often equal to the number of trees that were removed, and in some cases more trees.”

Johnston explained that she was under the impression the land was sold this summer to a group of local investors.

“Neighbours watched nervously as ground cover was removed, hundreds of cottonwoods were chipped and finally the orange flagging tape was pinned into remaining, healthy evergreens,” she noted. “The white permit stating that the removal of 24 trees would be executed within the year.”

She went on to say that the land has provided the necessary water storage to mitigate the flooding problems that plague Philip Jackman Park and Parkside.

Johnston has also been taking students on exploratory, place-based “nature” walks in the neighbourhood.

“Taking weekly walks, observing, recording and reflecting on this 2.4 acres taught us so much about the biodiversity and richness of this special space,” Johnston explained. “The children and I have recorded – mostly in crayon – over 40 different bird species, frogs, newts, toads, snails, rodents, and once we even saw bear scat.”

“Teaching alongside nature has nurtured my professional and personal soul in a way that fosters joy in my work and devotion to a career that can be all consuming,” she went on to say. “This loss of natural space is shattering to me and my students.”

Langley Township stated that some trees are periodically designated as special interest or heritage.

“With our best understanding of the trees referred to by concerned residents, they were not designated heritage trees,” the spokesperson noted. “Greenspace, ecosystems, and a sustainable tree canopy are important to the Township as supported by the recent Council approved Climate Action Strategy, and we endeavor to ensure a balance is struck between tree preservation and tree removal that is necessary and permitted under the Township’s Tree Protection Bylaw.”


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