Forest Ecology

The forest ecosystem is a balanced dynamic system in which all living things depend on each other.

Trees and shrubs provide shelter and nesting places for birds and animals and produce the cones, bark, nuts, berries, seeds and leaves on which they feed. Flowers produce berries, seeds and leaves, as well as nectar that is food for bees and hummingbirds. Smaller animals and birds and their eggs are food for the larger predators like coyotes, raccoons, crows, owls and hawks. Frogs, snakes and spiders rely mainly on insects for food. Plants species are distributed by birds passing seeds through their bodies and by animals carrying them about on their fir. In feeding on the nectar of flowers, bees pick up pollen with which they in turn fertilize the flowers. This interaction between species is called “symbiosis”.

Other examples are:

The Indian Pipe flower is colourless because it lacks chlorophyll which it needs to assimilate nutrients. This function is performed by means of a fungus which connects it to the root of a coniferous tree from which it draws its nourishment.

Ambrosia beetles bore into the wood of trees and feed on an “ambrosial” form of fungus which they cultivate.

Recycling the Forest

Dead and dying trees or wildlife trees, stumps and dead leaves provide food for ants, grubs, woodpeckers, and beetles. In the process plant matter is converted back into soil. Lichens, fungi, and mosses assist in this process. Because of the plants and seedlings that grow on them, rotting logs are appropriately called “nurse logs”.

Interruptions in any part of the symbiotic system can have enormous and far reaching repercussions.


The forest and the weather also depend on each other. The forest recycles the air needed for wildlife and air movement distributes the seeds and the pollen for fertilizing the flowers. Rain and snow provide the moisture needed for growth of plants and the livelihood of animals.


In the wild, animals, birds and fish move with the seasons along well defined “migratory paths” in harmony with their natural environment. Isolated in parks, their species tend to weaken and disappear. Surrey attempts to offset this by creating green corridors between parks. This consists of keeping ditches and culverts in good condition and protecting the “riparian” belts along the banks of streams. The Urban Ecology Institute together with BC Hydro and BC Gas are developing a “Green Link Belt” through their right-of-way from Tynehead Park, through Green Timbers to Burns Bog.

Green Timbers and Pollution

Wooded areas within a city contribute to environmental quality, community character, and conomic value. As an Urban Forest, Green Timbers plays that role in the north of Surrey. It makes our city more livable in the following ways:

  • Air
    Trees and shrubs affect the quality of the air we breathe. They recycle the polluting gasses produced by our cars and industry. They trap and filter airborne dirt , sand, ash, dust, and pollen, which rain then washes into the soil. Trees and shrubs cool the hot surrounding air in summer, and break the cold winds in winter.
  • Water
    The forest filters water through its root systems to purify fish-bearing streams such as the Serpentine River. These root systems also play an essential role in slowing the water run-off from rain and snow, thereby reducing soil erosion, sedimentation and flooding of our low-lying farmlands.
  • Noise
    Trees assist in cushioning noise in the surrounding community.
  • Visual Pollution
    Trees soften uninteresting appearances of buildings, streets and parking lots. They break the glare of reflected light from glass and bright surfaces, and reduce the brown smog that forms during hot weather.

Lake and Wetland

Advantage was taken of the second logging in 1986 of forty-two acres in the headwaters of King Creek north of 96 Avenue to create a nature park containing a wildlife lade with an upstream wetland and walking trails. In so doing, it duplicates a marshland and lake which existed there at the turn of the century. Thirty native species not already existing in Green Timbers, have been planted there. These include:

  • Trees:
    White Pine, Black hawthorn, Mountain Ash, Scouler’s Willow.
  • Shrubs:
    Hardhack, Devil’s Club, Black Twinberry, Saskatoon Berry, Falsebox, Oregon Grape, Red-osier Dogwood, Ocean Spray, Indian Plum, Pacific Ninebark, Oval-leaved Blueberry.
  • Wetland Plants:
    Cat-tail Bulrush, Slough rush, Scouring Rush, common Rush, Bur-reed (a floating plant), Water Plantain and Skunk Cabbage. These plants will, in turn, widen the range of animal and bird species and result in the development on a Riparian zone rich in biodiversity, providing a wealth of material for the study and appreciation of our natural heritage.