Man-made Mixed-wood Forest on the Prairies

Saskatoon’s Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area (325 acres) and George Genereux Urban Regional Park (148 acres) began as part of an ambitious, far-sighted afforestation greenbelt plan undertaken by the city in 1972. The plan proposed 3 categories: 1. Forest in perpetuity (660 acres), 2. Long-term planting (2200 acres), 3. Future public reserve areas (100 acres). The afforestation plan was linked with the Green Survival Program promoted by tree nurseries across North America at the time.

The 660 acres under the category “Forest in perpetuity” were planted in 1972 and 1973 on City-owned land that had been previously leased to farmers. The intent on inception was that these greenspaces become mature urban regional parks in future subdivisions when the city grew out in this direction.

Bare-root seedlings were obtained from the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration Tree Nursery at Indian Head, Saskatchewan. The species used were: American and Siberian elm, Manitoba maple, green ash, poplar, willow, caragana, Colorado spruce and Scotch pine.

The seedlings were planted with a tree planter in rows weaving in and out as much as 40 feet from the centre line. This produced a natural forest effect.

Afforestation Areas in Saskatoon

Now, coming on 50 years, the man-made forest provides a unique greenspace due in part to the boreal forest like feel produced by the succession to mature spruce and pine in many parts of the afforestation area. These species are continually expanding as their cones seed wider areas and successfully grow in.  To find natural areas of spruce and pine one has to travel about 100 km NE of Saskatoon where the transition to the boreal forest zone begins.

Unfortunately, the full afforestation plan was never completed and these two areas remained neglected until Saskatoon’s rapid growth spurt began in 2008. The area where these parks exist is now part of a larger sector plan still in the works.

The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas (Friends) , a non-profit charity, was established to advocate for the protection and enhancement of these laboratories of ecological succession with their unique biodiversity.

A 100 k grant from  the Department of the Environment (“Environment and Climate Change Canada” or “ECCC”)  is allowing the Friends to install protective barriers in areas where illegal vehicle entry has occurred and also to place signage. The Friends are also promoting educational environmental protection, climate action and wellness nature-based activities in these greenspaces.

Two heritage documentaries are being produced which will have an international reach. The first will celebrate the extraordinary humanitarian legacy of the forester Richard St. Barbe Baker, who has been called the first global conservationist. His lifelong work to protect forests, including the Redwood forests in California, and promote tree planting for habitat restoration, including research for and promotion of plans to reclaim the Sahara Desert is legendary. He had a deep understanding of forest ecology and was a climate change activist beginning in the 1930s. He was bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Laws at the University of Saskatchewan in 1971 by John Diefenbaker. The International Tree Foundation inaugurated by Baker in 1922 is commemorating its centenary in 2022.

The second heritage documentary film is focused on the 50th anniversary of the original planting (1972-2022) and the visionary ideals of the City of Saskatoon in initiating this project.  During this era of climate change, it is valuable to highlight the paramount importance of nature based solutions to climate change, such as afforestation.

Hoar frost at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Hoar frost at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

These films and associated celebrations will draw public attention to these local semi-wilderness habitats which are still relatively unknown. Public awareness about Saskatoon’s man-made forest is especially important at this moment when extensive discussions are taking place to make decisions on the management of parks and ecosystems in Saskatoon. These forests tie in well with Saskatoon’s strategic goals of environmental leadership and quality of life.

Please Come to the Wildwoods of Saskatoon.

The 326 acre Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in the City of Saskatoon at GPS 52.1006191,-106.753599 [off of Cedar Villa Road – Tsp Rd 362A]

The 148 acre George Genereux Urban Regional Park is also located in the City of Saskatoon at GPS 52.1132971,-106.7861112 [near Sk Highway 7]

Wildlife Montage. Red Winged Blackbird, White Tailed Deer Fawn, Garter Snake, JackRabbit, Mallard Ducklings, Black Crowned Night Heron
Wildlife Montage in the afforestation areas. Red Winged Blackbird, White Tailed Deer Fawn, Garter Snake, JackRabbit, Mallard Ducklings, Black Crowned Night Heron


Practice nephelococcygia today!

APRIL 19, 2020 marks the beginning of SKY AWARENESS WEEK.

The afforestation areas were started as city tree nurseries under the banner of the Green Survival Program.  The Green Survival Programwas concerned about ecology abuse, and pollution, providing planting, and greening up the planet, with a motto, “It’s up to you!”

What is nephelococcygia?

While practicing the art of self-isolation, and social distancing for COVID-19, take in the art of nephelococcygia.  Nephelococcygia is simply laying back for the pleasure of seeking and finding shapes in clouds.  

Can you draw, or paint the shapes which you find?  When you do create a picture, would anyone ever believe, that really the clouds looked like that on that day?

As you look up at the clouds, consider how clouds form.  Learn how to classify clouds at the PBS Nova Cloud Lab.

Did you know that Air pollution drops as countries shut down amid spread of COVID-19 and India’s coronavirus lockdown is having a dramatic impact on pollution?  Just as all the COVID-19 protocols meant that people stepped up and practiced various measures for their own personal safety, and the collective safety of friends and families, so too, it is important to save the habitats around the world from sky – and air pollution.  What measures can you take to make sure that your grandchildren will be able to practice nephelococcygia?  Where can you lower your carbon footprint?  Can you change vehicles?  Can you change the way your home or business sets its carbon footprint?  Contemplate how to keep your air and sky pollution low with the same earnestness and passion devoted to COVID-19.  Can you plant a tree?  Actually can you plant a forest?  What an amazing method forests and trees are to help reduce the carbon footprint around the world.

On Sunday April 19, there are three days before the Earth Day celebration! This year’s Earth Day 2020 theme is Climate Action, which will be explored during Earth Month.

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

  Canada Helps

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:
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)

1./ Learn.

2./ Experience

3./ Do Something: ***

If we pollute the air, water and soil that keep us alive and well, and destroy the biodiversity that allows natural systems to function, no amount of money will save us. – David Suzuki

Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother / With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit. Stephen Spender

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