Saskatoon’s afforestation areas receive federal funding
From: Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc.
June 17, 2021 Saskatoon, SK.
Two historic afforestation areas in Saskatoon will benefit from $100,080 in Government of Canada funding from now until the end of 2022. The non-profit charity Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. (Friends) obtained the funding through the Government of Canada’s Climate Action and Awareness Fund (CAAF).
“The funding will help protect and restore the 326-acre Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the 148-acre George Genereux Urban Regional Park ,” said Julia Adamson, chair of the Friends.
“A major priority of our 2021/2022 Green Vision project is installing barriers to stop motorized vehicles from entering and dumping garbage in these unique man-made forests on the prairies.”
Additional initiatives include installing identification signage, conducting ecological surveys and bio-blitzes to identify significant species and landscape features, ongoing garbage clean-ups, and educational programming linked to these laboratories of ecological succession.
SOS Trees Inc. is a partner for climate action activities the Friends will be undertaking.
“The larger afforestation area, named after the world-renowned forester Richard St Barbe Baker, has seen a big increase in use since the Friends began clean-ups there in 2016,” added Adamson. “George Genereux Urban Regional Park can now benefit from similar restoration initiatives. These forests are a common public space for residents of all ages to come out and connect with nature and uniquely, experience a boreal forest type of woodland right here in Saskatoon.”
“We are proud to be one of 58 community-based climate action, awareness, and engagement projects funded through CAAF. We appreciate that fines collected through the Environmental Damages Fund are turned into positive environmental action in communities like ours.”
Situated on the west edge of the city, the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park are unique natural semi-wilderness habitats of great biodiversity. These man-made forests are the only remaining portions of a 1970s city plan to create a greenbelt around Saskatoon. They were designated to be ‘preserved in perpetuity’ and were planted in response to the Green Survival program promoted in the US and Canada at that time. The afforestation area 50th birthday will be celebrated in 2022.
The afforestation areas include a portion of the West Swale wetlands formed by a glacial spillway formed during the Pleistocene era connecting north and south Saskatchewan River Valleys.
The non-profit Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. was created to preserve and restore these areas for their beauty and special geological, geographical and historic elements, including Paleo-Indian and First Nations heritage. In the past few years the Friends have organized community volunteer clean-ups that have removed over 34,890 kg or 76,919 pounds of illegally dumped materials from the two afforestation areas. This has made the areas safe for public enjoyment and a variety of recreational and educational user activities.
Richard St. Barbe Baker (1889-1982) is an inspirational global figure with many ties to Saskatoon and his extraordinary worldwide humanitarian efforts in tree planting and habitat protection will be commemorated this November. Nov. 6th 2021 is the 50th anniversary of former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker conferring the honorary Doctorate of Laws upon Baker at the University of Saskatchewan fall convocation.
“Green networks and infrastructure are important aspects for sustainability in our city. This priority has been identified in multiple City of Saskatoon and regional community plans. This project will help ensure the success of efforts to clean, preserve, and protect the more than 450 acres of greenbelt surrounding Saskatoon. These are our recreational and educational spaces for generations to come.”His Worship Mayor Charlie Clark, City of Saskatoon
“The tireless work of Friends contributes greatly to the wellbeing of our environment and the wellbeing of Saskatoon residents. I am thrilled that this support is making its way to the local champions of these unique forests.”Hilary Gough, City of Saskatoon Councillor Ward 2
“I have been walking almost daily in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area for some 20 years now. It is my quiet place in the city. Back in the day however, this forest was full of abandoned vehicles and garbage. But thanks to the passion and dedication of the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc., it is now a pristine sanctuary – for me and for so many species of plants and animals. And because of their dedication, I feel confident that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will also be able to enjoy this amazing piece of Saskatoon. You work is so important!”David Kirton, City of Saskatoon Councillor Ward 3
“Climate mitigation is one of the most important benefits that our trees provide. We are delighted that our Saskatoon afforestation sites will be better protected and provide citizens the opportunity to engage with nature.”Linda Moskalyk, chair, SOS Trees Coalition
“It is fitting that the afforestation area named after Richard St Barbe Baker, arguably the first global conservationist, be protected and become a site where the public can see the rich biodiversity resulting from planting trees in what was a summerfallow field in 1972.”Robert White, Master in Science in Ecology, Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc.