What is a Vertical Forest?

Introducing Vertical Forests and Façade Greenscapes

So recently discussing the nestling of naturalized settings in an urban setting such as the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and the George Genereux Urban Regional Park of the city of Saskatoon a question came up regarding the long range planning of areas in the city. The question was; what exactly is a vertical forest?

Green roofs, façades, and walls, are amazing, aesthetically pleasing, and have a huge positive impact on the environment and your pocket book. A stunning and exquisite living roof or ecowall is nothing but a dynamic expression of health, well-being, life, and movement. Texture, pattern, and fragrance with eco-architecture unite and network businesses and customers, inspire families, and network neighbourhoods. The University of Saskatchewan is implementing a number of green roofs, starting with the College of Law, and residential property owners are initiating their own practices of green roofing.

musée du quai Branly Paris Courtesy Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
musée du quai Branly y Paris Courtesy Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

Living walls and roofs definitely contribute to environment quality and ensure that the home or building owner plays a key part in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). It is without doubt an unequivocal, and irrefutable the wonderful environmental footprint when an eco wall or roof makes an impact on energy efficiency.

Zachary Smith says, “Living walls are visually stunning, yes, but there is much more than meets the eye…[they] promote the positive effects that plants have on individuals’ mental and physical wellness, a key benefit in and of itself.”

These green spaces implemented on buildings such as shopping centres, civic architecture, and private homes provide real, definitive health and well-being benefits. Green buildings add value to the property as well as providing environmental benefits.

A green roof can be an “Ecoroof” requiring minimal maintenance, or it may be a “roof garden” or “podium roof” offering higher variety, and access to people. Can you imagine being a restaurant or lounge owner, and bringing in customers to experience your podium roof? This unique setting could provide recreation, or an amazing amenity featuring additional space for bars, restaurants or cafés. What a drawing card. Can you imagine being The Premier Venue folks choose for graduation and wedding parties, as your living wall becomes the backdrop for the wedding photographs, and reception.

Ronald Lu & Partners Green Wall, Hong Kong 2010
Ronald Lu & Partners Green Wall, Hong Kong 2010

Living walls help nurture the patient in health care or the employee in a business setting. Nature is known for its positive effects on creativity, performance and productivity in the work place. Similarly eco walls foster a healing environment reducing time spent in hospitals, and reducing the patients reliance on pain medications. Hospitals, and care homes both have greater well-being among their residents and patients, staff have a reduced workload and higher capacity to provide satisfying care.

A home owner can establish another garden upon the roof growing edibles or just have an amazing private get away for a relaxing “Staycation”.

Green walls, living walls or vertical gardens on the other hand, increase the buildings insulation creating their own micro-climate, and improving the air quality around the building. The amazing thing to consider is that living walls can be established inside or outside. Another one of a kind concepts for skyscraper developers is integrating “Vertical farming” into their design. This feature would provide residents with salad greens, herbs, and fruit, while landlords would realize reduced energy costs. It would be a “win-win” situation.

Kitchener Ontario Children's Museum courtesy M. Rehemtulla
Kitchener Ontario Children’s Museum courtesy M. Rehemtulla

A Vertical Greenery System (VGS) is mostly developed for aesthetic, environmental and economic benefit regardless for commercial groups or public individual. The foremost benefit of VGS based on last five years studies are thermal reduction, shading and cooling effects, energy efficiency and saving electricity cost Apart of that, VGS acts as acoustic insulation, air filtration, carbon sequestration, biodiversity preservation and increasing property values. (Source) This scientific study has delved into the impact of Vertical vegetation, and the carbon sequestration potential for climate change mitigation.

“Urbanization has led to many environmental issues such as climate change, global warming, urban heat island effect, air pollution, soil and water contamination, floods and acid rain. The contribution of cities and buildings to greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions and energy consumption accumulates over their lifecycle from conception (material collection, transportation, soil excavation, site clearing, etc) to construction (production, transport, distribution, etc), through usage (waste, electricity, energy consumption, maintenance, refurbishment) and finally demolition (disposal, waste). The construction industry has a vital role in creating a more sustainable built environment, and emerging from this realization are niches categorized as sustainable architecture, ecological architecture, climatic design , energy-efficient buildings, green architecture, green building, and sustainable property development” (Source)

A separate method of greening a residence or building is via green façades. Many people may think of a green façade as a partition proferring shade from the sun or as a privacy screen.  This may be the simplest, incorporating climbing vines or hanging gardens.

Hybrid living walls incorporate ideas and systems from both green walls and from green façades, a merger of the two, if you will.

Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana Mexico Courtesy ThelmadatterUniversidad.del.Claustro.de.Sor.Juana.Mexico.Thelmadatter
Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana Mexico Courtesy Thelmadatter

Are there cost savings and financial benefits?  $$$  Business owners can be assured of an increase in customer traffic, as their building is a point of interest and a landmark for people to come and see. Home owners also see a savings to their finances as a green roof will last between 30 – 50 years. (Source) A typical asphalt roof in comparison will last only 15 years in our arid climate with temperature swings between +40 to -40 Celsius. (Source) A green roof or a green wall, reduces the impact of temperature fluctuations on the building due to its unique micro-climate.

“Garden walls contribute to healthy communities, and can serve to introduce green space where ground level landscaping is hard to come by. Plants in communities are linked to a number of benefits, including reduced crime rates and increased civic participation.” (Source)

UniversityofOttawaSocialSciencesBuildingJon Kolbert
University of Ottawa Social Sciences Building courtesy Jon Kolbert

“As the vertical assemblages of plants found on living walls are not commonly found in nature, this gives the opportunity to create a complete new ecosystem able to thrive and develop in cities. Recreating and supplementing threatened habitats within a city setting offers new avenues for conservation. Working on green walls in urban settings is an emerging area of ecology; exploring the functionalities and the possibilities of green walls, and especially living walls, should not be constrained by conventional conservation paradigms. “Source

Rainwater is absorbed by all green spaces, managing the stormwater run off. To help manage the bio-roof, the addition of a cistern would aid the vegetation. (Source)

Both the heating and cooling bills are reduced for the store or home owner. Air conditioning bills reduce in the summer, and the wear and tear on the heating system is also reduced during the winter months. The savings in both climate extremes are amazing when comparing green roofs and green walls to conventional building systems.

“When the trees go, the rain goes, the climate deteriorates, the water table sinks, the land erodes and desert conditions soon appear”.~Richard St. Barbe Baker

In addition to the texture, vegetation can be selected and planted in patterns, pictures and murals to “Transform your building wall into a living canvas with a broad palette of plants.” Source

Noise reduction is an amazing feature for residents, developers and architects proposing construction near railway tracks, in a down town area, or near a busy highway or arterial road. Green walls, with their layers of plant material serve to reduce sound carrying into the living space remarkably. Source

A green wall or a living roof will do its part in mitigating climate change. Hard surfaces such as asphalt shingles, brick walls, harness the sun’s heat in the summer months, radiating this heat. Vegetation provides relief from heat islands created by homes and buildings.

Green walls serve to mitigate bird deaths from “Bird strike” on buildings incorporating a large amount of glass windows, a common contemporary architectural feature. Vegetation contributes to our biodiversity, offering homes for bird nests, and assisting in their migration. Naturalists could combine this technology, and those concerned about our dwindling song bird species, and pollinators could select appropriate food sources, and species. In conclusion, green walls or eco roofs both increase biodiversity in urban areas. In neighbourhoods with limited green spaces, perhaps these sources of vegetations are the only space for food, shelter or nesting for the migrating or indigenous animal species.

Bosco Verticale towers in Milan, Italy
Bosco Verticale towers in Milan, Italy

“Animal groups respond differently to the characteristics of green walls and the surrounding features. Importantly, the design and the maintenance interventions of green walls influence their use by animals and, as such, it is possible to modify these environments to make them more attractive to certain animal communities. Whether growing on independent self-supporting structures, or directly on or in buildings, plants can use largely under-exploited vertical space allowing an additional type of ecosystem to be incorporated into the urban environment.”Source

The higher the green environment around a building or home, the cleaner the air. Vegetation reduces pollution, and clean fresh oxygen is available in return.

So comment if you have considered developing an amazing restaurant with a green wall, or if your city features a children’s museum with a living vertical forest.  Perhaps you are a home owner contemplating an eco-roof, or maybe you are an architect wishing to bring into play an apartment or condominium as a vertical forest.  Have you actually done the construction, and comment about how it went.  What do you think?  Do you think it would be delightful to be sitting in a living wall restaurant sipping a cappuccino overlooking the wetlands of Saskatchewan? The possibilities are endless for developers, contractors, and owners.  Conversely, wouldn’t it be so delightful if the greenscape of the naturalized area was extended in a larger point of view, encompassing both the natural green space, and extending upward into a green wall rather than a greyscape?  What a photograph!  Are vertical forests, eco-roofs, and green façades a wonderful way to enhance naturalized reserves in cities such as the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area,  the George Genereux Urban Regional Park and the each and several multitudes of natural parks and green spaces across the city of Saskatoon.

The Ultimate Treehouse Part 2 of the Vertical Forest


“We forget that we owe our existence to the presence of Trees. As far as forest cover goes, we have never been in such a vulnerable position as we are today. The only answer is to plant more Trees – to Plant Trees for Our Lives.” Richard St. Barbe Baker


A Hedera green façade – Energy performance and saving under different maritime-temperate, winter weather conditions
A Guide to Green Roofs, Walls and Façades
Build Sask Green
Evaluating the Effects of Façade Greening on Human Bioclimate in a Complex Urban Environment
Experimental study of the urban microclimate mitigation potential of green roofs and green walls in street canyons. ” It was found that the green wall may reduce overheating by one-third in street canyons through maintaining moderate temperatures on the green façade by evapotranspiration. Thus, when vegetated envelopes are used, the air temperature increases less during the day and decreases less at night. Green roofs have the same but less noticeable effects. Similarly, we found that the use of vegetated façades can reduce by 4°C the mean radiant temperature, which directly affects the thermal comfort in the street canyon.”
Green roofs Land Stewardship Centre
Green Roofs: Good for the Economy and the Environment Ecofriendly Sask
Growing Green Guide
Life Cycle Costs of Green Roofs
Living Walls
The Animal Biodiversity of Green Walls in the Urban Environment
Whole life costing: Green roofs


For directions as to how to drive to “George Genereux” Urban Regional Park

For directions on how to drive to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

For more information:

Blairmore Sector Plan Report; planning for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area,  George Genereux Urban Regional Park and West Swale and areas around them inside of Saskatoon city limits

P4G Saskatoon North Partnership for Growth The P4G consists of the Cities of Saskatoon, Warman, and Martensville, the Town of Osler and the Rural Municipality of Corman Park; planning for areas around the afforestation area and West Swale outside of Saskatoon city limits

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city. 52° 06′ 106° 45′
Part SE 23-36-6 – Afforestation Area – 241 Township Road 362-A
Part SE 23-36-6 – SW Off-Leash Recreation Area (Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area ) – 355 Township Road 362-A
S ½ 22-36-6 Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (West of SW OLRA) – 467 Township Road 362-A
NE 21-36-6 “George Genereux” Afforestation Area – 133 Range Road 3063
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
Where is the George Genereux Urban Regional Park (Afforestation Area)? with map

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

Facebook Group Page: Users of the George Genereux Urban Regional Park

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

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

Facebook: South West OLRA

Twitter: StBarbeBaker

Please help protect / enhance your afforestation areas, please contact the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. (e-mail)

Support the afforestation areas with your donation or membership ($20.00/year).  Please donate by paypal using the e-mail friendsafforestation AT gmail.com, or by using e-transfers  Please and thank you!  Your donation and membership is greatly appreciated.  Members e-mail your contact information to be kept up to date!

QR Code FOR PAYPAL DONATIONS to the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc.
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“The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. ” Wangari Maathai.


“I believed that God has lent us the Earth. It belongs as much to those who come after us as to us, and it ill behooves us by anything we do or neglect, to deprive them of benefits which are in our power to bequeath.” Richard St. Barbe Baker


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

5 thoughts on “What is a Vertical Forest?”

    1. Oh that is so wonderful. It was photographs of the Singapore ‘Gardens of the Bay’ which became the first alert to the concept of vertical forests. Singapore residents are so terribly fortunate and lucky to be such a wonderful country of green. And it is hard to believe that your amazing green space will yet increase and double by 2030. What a role model for the world! Thank you so much for your comment, it is hoped that Saskatoon can follow in Singapore’s environmental footsteps indeed https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/more-green-spaces-in-high-rise-buildings-targeted-for-singapores-concrete

      Liked by 1 person

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