Author’s outreach philosophy

My name is Ira Sutherland. Growing up among the tall trees of Vancouver, BC, early on I developed an appreciation of Earth’s beauty and a curiosity for how people interact with the environment. I explored extensively through the mountains of Vancouver, and travelled widely abroad, often by bicycle.  Climbing over mountainscrawling through rainforest and swimming in the ocean has provided me with a deepening connection with nature. Following this interest, I undertook and recently completed seven years of study (a BSc at UBC and MSc at McGill) to become a forest scientist. Now I have a lens to observe the human-forest connection, and I enjoy sharing it. This hiking guide is to share my passion for nature exploration and discovering the secrets and stories that run around us

An aim of this guide is to develop a deeper understanding of forest ecology among readers, and specifically Vancouverites —comprising half of BC’s population— so that they may take greater interest and voting responsibility in the management of forests across BC.

My philosophy is partially inspired by the history of old-growth forest conservation in BC. A primary reason that we still have old-growth forests remaining in BC is that proactive individuals and organizations brought the beauty and importance of our province’s forests to the eyes and understanding of the public. Look at a map of BC, and note that nearly every large park is there due to efforts of a few individuals and organizations. I deeply respect the work of Randy Stoltmann, author of the seminal big tree guidebook, and groups such as the Wilderness Committee who brought the backwoods of BC to the public table for thought and discussion.

Shaketown illustration

My aim is therefore to bring old-growth forests to the eyes of British Columbians through photos, film and instructions for them to visit. In my stories, find maps to the largest remaining trees as well as interpretation of the ecology, history and human values associated with these forests. I hope that you find this engaging and entertaining, and that it adds to your understanding and perspective of what once was and still perhaps is the Great Vancouver Forest.

Ira Sutherland with a group of hikers out to see the ‘Super Stumps’ of Seymour Valley


15 responses to “Author’s outreach philosophy

  1. I am so thankful to find this web-site. I am constantly looking for biggest tree of every city I’ve been to. It is not a easy job. This is a wonderful wonderful web-site. Thank you for all your effort.

  2. Pingback: Vancouver Big Tree Hiking Guide | Vancouver Big Tree Hiking Guide

  3. Ira I would like to make email contact with you. Together with others I have started an inventory of “Notable ” trees on the Sunshine Coast. This initiative is described on the website of the Sunshine Coast Natural History Society. Tab re background of Notable Trees. We have some very large trees as well as many that are notable for other reasons.
    I’d like to discuss all this with you.
    Bob Sitter (retired RPF)

  4. What a wonderful site! I am a teacher at Kerrisdale Elementary School (2001-present); if you are still in Vancouver, I would love to have you visit my class or perhaps speak to the whole school.

    Mr. Mac

  5. Hi Ira, thanks so much for this beautiful resource. I’ve recently become interested in old-growth forest conservation and have some time to spend on this – I’d be interested in any recommendations or advice you have on this. Could I please e-mail you with a bit more context on this?


    Dan Silveyra

    • Sure thing Daniel. Would be great to talk to you about outreach opportunities. There is so much work to be done, and we could really use all hands on deck! mountainira[at]

  6. Thank you for your very informative and colourful talk at the West Van “Old Growth Conservancy Society” meeting tonight, Ira. As a result I have ‘joined’ their group! …from the person who worked in a shake block camp up Toba Inlet, BC in the 1990s. Oh yes, and I can’t wait to tell my five brothers about what was likely the biggest tree in Canada (until the other one is found) .. named the Hadley Wickham tree!
    – caroline wickham

    • It was a pleasure to meet you, Caroline Wickham. It sounds like you and your brothers have some pretty interesting stories to share. If your around, it would be great to hear more about it sometime!

  7. Jacqui Birchall

    Hey Ira. My name is Jacqui Birchall and I write a column on Stanley Park for The West End Journal. I recently interviewed Colin Spratt. Colin is a a huge fan of yours. I would love to mention you in my upcoming article on old growth trees in Stanley Park. He shared your website. Any other info would be great.
    Very best wishes

  8. Hi Ira, I grew up in Lynn Valley some 50 years ago. Our house was next to a park that had two giant stumps nearby, one of which was hollow and so big that my dad could dump the lawn clippings into it. I was in awe at how big those trees must have been and was forever searching for more of those giants in the local mountains. Thanks for putting together this website, if I ever get back I’ll be sure to put your guide to good use! Stan Franssen

    • Thanks Stan! Hope you find some out there. They are certainly there, but the majority are harder to get to (such as north of Kennedy Creek in Lynn Valley) and at higher elevation.

Leave a Reply to bigtrees Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s