I heard a bit about the University of British Columbia’s new tree canopy walkway on CBC radio this morning, in between Olympic and vice presidential updates:
Media Release [from the University of British Columbia] | Aug. 22, 2008
UBC Opens New Tree Canopy Walkway
Today, the UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research officially opened its newest campus attraction, the Greenheart Canopy Walkway, the only treetop walkway of its kind in Canada and one of only two in North America.
The 308-metre walkway, which reaches heights in excess of 17.5 metres, enables visitors and researchers to experience the unique biodiversity of a Pacific Coastal Rainforest canopy, which includes treetop mosses, lichens, birds, insects and other invertebrates, and offers “bird’s eye” views of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser River.
Sustainable construction technology has been used to secure the walkway’s eight platforms and nine bridges to trees in the UBC Botanical Garden’s 15-hectare David C. Lam Asian Garden. Instead of using invasive fasteners that can damage trees, the walkway is secured by a patented “Tree Hugger” system of interlaced steel cables, provided by Greenheart Conservation Company, a private eco-attraction company from Vancouver. The cable system is designed to expand allowing for normal tree growth.
“The Greenheart Canopy Walkway gives students, researchers and visitors unprecedented access to the rarely seen forest canopy of the Pacific Northwest,” says Murray Isman, Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems. “This unique eco-attraction will be a destination for education and interactive learning, adding to UBC’s reputation as a global leader in research, teaching and sustainability.”
Greenheart built the walkway and its staff will guide visitors through the course in season-specific, interactive educational tours based on the expertise of faculty and staff from the UBC Botanical Garden and the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.
The walkway will be accessible to people living with disabilities, thanks to a motorized wheelchair device that will arrive in September 2008. UBC’s Botanical Garden will use revenues from the walkway to support and expand existing horticultural, educational and research programs.
“Nature tourism is considered one of the fastest growing markets in the tourism industry,” said Ian Green, president and co-founder of Greenheart, which has used “Tree Hugger” technology in eco-attractions in National Parks in South America and Africa. “We are helping to develop viable long-term businesses that support the local economy while also creating sustainable conservation strategies that leave a minimal footprint on the environment.”
There’s more on the treetop walkway here, including some photographs (and hours, fees, and proper footwear), at the Botanical Garden website. What a nifty field trip the walkway would be!