Spiral shelterbelts

October 1 2018, the first monday in October is World Habitat Day.

How can Richard St. Barbe Baker’s theory of spiral shelters be analyzed?  Is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area an example of afforestation spiral shelter theory being proven successfully?   In 1972, the parks department planted, or afforested 660 acres of afforestation area as a tree nursery in a greening programme for the City of Saskatoon.  The various trees selected were planted not in straight rows, but rather in circular patterns throughout the land allotment.  What has been noted by horticulturists, and foresters in the comparison of trees planted in semi-circles as opposed to trees planted in straight rows?  How does snow accumulate and what is the effect of seasonal drought and flooding? How does wind react upon trees planted in straight lines, and what is the wind pattern, if trees are planted in spirals?  What can be learned of this practice to improve agricultural methods?  Saskatchewan is a windy province, and is subject to years of drought and high water tables, will a spiral windbreak affect the wind and water cycle on agricultural concerns in our province?

“We submit that water must be a basic consideration in all our national and earth -wide forest programmes; streams and rivers must be restored to their natural motion; and floods and droughts must be eliminated.  Forests and woodlands are intimately linked with biological, social and spiritual well-being.  The minimum tree cover for safety is one-third of the total land area.  Every catchment area should have at least this proportion of tree cover made up of mixed species, including broad-leaf trees, mono-culture in any form being injurious to the land.” segment from The Men of the Trees; The New Earth Charter

“We’re stabilizing the sand with a series of spiral shelters – rows of trees planted in semicircles to catch the winds and create vortices of air,” explains Baker. “The same thing would be valuable on the Canadian prairies where straight shelter belts cause snow to accumulate.” Star Weekly Toronto, On January 15 1972. article title “He’s top man on the world totem pole”

Branta canadensis
Branta canadensis Canada Goose

Ken Liddells’s Column The Calgary Herald Nov 11 1971″He [Baker] says the fight to prevent the spread of the desert is being won. One tool is a series of spiral shelter belts, with openings for grazing cattle. It is effective for most directions of the wind. The funnels lead into circular enclosures to create vortices of air. It would, he said, be valuable on the Canadian Prairies where straight shelter belts cause snow to accumulate and where “the mining of wheat” will be mourned once again, because the dust bowl of the United States is again creeping over that land.”

Grus canadensis Sandhill Crane

Trees also break the strength of the wind, creating shelter for other life forms and lesser species of vegetation.  The planting of shelter-belts (best in spiral form) reduces both the wind speed and the dehydration of the soil, creating microclimates that help the soil against erosion through the provision of additional humus and protection,  Indeed shelter belts can influence the evaporation rate over cultivated land by as much as 30 meters upwind and 120 meters downwind, and Canadian research has shown that farms with a third of their land as shelter belts are more productive than farms of equivalent area where there are no trees at all.

These shelter belts also trap Carbon dioxide (CO2), the heaviest naturally occuring atmospheric gas, found mostly in the lowest levels of the atmosphere, and an essential component of photosynthesis.  Increased CO2 under the right conditions will produce stronger photosynthesis.  When trees and hedgerows between fields are removed, productivity falls, because this causes a fall in carbon dioxide.  Trees should be revered as much as water, for together they are both the givers of life.” Hidden Nature: The Startling Insights of Viktor Schauberger By Alick Bartholomew


Shelterbelts do not have to be planted in rigid, straight lines. A curved shelterbelt on a natural topographical contour line around the north and west sides of your farmyard will look more pleasing.

Shelterbelts can follow the contour of a valley or creek, run in an angle, or even have a circular shape around the yard site. The main consideration is to keep the spacing parallel between rows for ease of between-row cultivation and maintenance. Farmyard shelterbelts Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The afforestation areas were planted with “the following tree species…Amercian and Siberian Elm, Manitoba Maple, Green Ash, Poplar, Willow, Colorado Spruce, Scotch Pine and Caragana.” The Trembling Aspen, Snowberry, Buffaloberry are examples of native species also prevalent in the afforestation areas.

As a pioneer in afforestation which is applauded in contemporary times as the earth requires trees for “Carbon Sequestration”, and for the “cooling effect” of the summer tree canopy, reducing the heating effect from Climate Change locally. The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the Afforestation area formerly named “George Genereux” Urban Regional Park were planted uniquely, and could be considered pioneers in Richard St. Barbe Baker’s Spiral Shelterbelt planting theory.

A tractor operated by the City of Saskatoon Parks Department purchased a special tree planting machine to afforest the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the Afforestation area formerly named “George Genereux” Urban Regional Park. The planting process at the afforestation areas began along an outside boundary, and the driver proceeded creating a weaving pattern. The rows would diverge as much as forty feet from the centre line, producing a greater naturalized forest effect rather than strict rows extending linearly. Weaving in and out spirally, and in a curvi-linear fashion creating a much more natural, effect mimicking the genius of Gaia, Mother Nature, herself and her wisdom.

For more information:

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com

Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Facebook: South West Off Leash Recreation Area SW OLRA

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

Tagged Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Twitter: St Barbe Baker

Contact the Meewasin Valley Authority in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The MVA has begun a Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund. If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund (MVA RSBBAA trust fund)”.  Post to MVA 402 Third Avenue South Saskatoon, SK S7K 3G5  Please and thank you!

Membership in the Saskatoon Nature Society  “supports nature conservation projects and [the society] is an active advocate for the preservation of plant and animal habitats”.

Please contemplate joining the SOS Elms coalition ~ an active group interested in forest management~ or make a donation to “Save our Saskatchewan” [SOS] Elms ~ leave a message to support the afforestation area  😉

1./ Learn.

2./ Experience

3./ Do Something: ***


Author: stbarbebaker

This website is about the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area - an urban regional park of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The hosts are the stewards of the afforestation area. The afforestation area received its name in honour of the great humanitarian, Richard St. Barbe Baker. Richard St. Barbe Baker (9 October 1889 – 9 June 1982) was an English forester, environmental activist and author, who contributed greatly to worldwide reforestation efforts. As a leader, he founded an organization, Men of the Trees, still active today, whose many chapters carry out reforestation internationally. {Wikipedia} Email is StBarbeBaker AT yahoo.com to reach the Stewards of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

4 thoughts on “Spiral shelterbelts”

      1. This plan seems so absolutely wonderful, it would be fantastic to have some experiments started. Planting, whether as afforestation or in shelter belts, would seem to benefit from the spiral nature of plantings, as this layout seems to conduct the wind to a desired effect.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google+ photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s