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Treespotting in Straley’s footsteps

April 21st, 2016

by James Paley

David Tracey’s new field guide, Vancouver Tree Book (Pure Wave Media $20), is a continuation of a treespotting project first started by Gerald Straley back in 1992. Due to his death a few years later, Straley’s seminal book, Trees of Vancouver (UBC Press), has never been updated. Now, thanks to Tracey and a handful of dedicated arborists, Vancouver Tree Book has continued Straley’s work. The field guide begins with a series of maps outlining Vancouver’s notable and treasured trees, a guided tour that hardly touches on the city’s arboreal diversity. This is followed by a detailed identification guide, subdivided into nine groups of trees found around Vancouver. The book includes photographs of leaves, branches, bark patterns and trees for finding each species in the city. The individual species entries come with location data for finding these trees, allowing the dedicated reader and explorer to follow in Tracey’s footsteps all around Vancouver. The book also includes facts such as the world’s tallest tree (115 metres, Hyperion in northern California), and which species is said to be the oldest on earth (ginkgo biloba). Tracey recognizes the collaborative nature of this project, closing the guide with nods to the other arborists who made it possible. The higher level tree enthusiast can use this information to propel their studies to greater heights, seeking out the work of people like Douglas Justice and Wendy Cutler to further their knowledge. Vancouver Tree Book is a highly-detailed, colourful and almost-pocket-sized reference guide to the plethora of trees that have helped to make Vancouver into one of the most desirable places to live on the planet.

Born in Montreal in 1959, David Tracey is an environmental designer in Vancouver. He has written, photographed and recorded news and feature stories for a range of international media including the Globe & Mail, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, the Economist, the South China Morning Post, ABC TV and CBC Radio.

In 2001-2004 he received a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from UBC. He works as an environmental designer for his own firm EcoUrbanist and as a community ecologist with an emphasis on urban agriculture. He is also a tree care expert certified by the International Society of Arboriculture and the Executive Director of the non-profit volunteer group Tree City.

His Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto is hands-on guide to greening your city — with or without permission.

His humourous novel The Miracle Tree follows a young reporter’s search for authenticity when he’s sent to cover a tree that might make wishes come true.

In Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution (New Society 2011), Tracey champions the cause of urban agriculture, the cultivation of unused urban spaces to grow food for human consumption. He coaches readers on growing their own food—whether sprouts or squashes—wherever they can: on a windowsill, on a balcony or in a backyard, and even in community gardens. Even with limited space or sunlight, it is possible to grow at least something. Especially helpful for the apprehensive and inexperienced grower, Urban Agriculture abounds with inspiration, tips and tricks for obtaining optimal results.

Tracey, DavidBOOKS:

Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto (New Society, 2007).

The Miracle Tree (Pure Wave Media, 2010)

Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution (New Society 2011) 978-0-86571-694-0 $21.95

Vancouver Tree Book (Pure Wave Media 2016) 978-0-9865055-2-2

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