Professor Laurence Roche

“Never before in the history of man has forestry, both in the developed and developing worlds, attracted so much public attention. Environmental degradation and the decline of forests in industrial countries, the continued destruction of forests in developing countries, and evidence of global climate change have all combined to raise the awareness of politicians, planners, and the media to the vital importance of forests in the well-being of nations, and to the knowledge that in our time, the remnants of natural forest ecosystems, with their great diversity of habitats, are in danger of destruction. “~Laurence Roche[7]


Professor Laurence Roche, B. Agr., M.A., M.F., Ph.D. [October 20, 1927-November 23, 1999] had never met the world renowned silviculturist Richard St. Barbe Baker, however Roche was an avid reader of the books published by Dr. Richard St. Barbe Baker, L.L.D, O.B.E. F.A.I.L., For. Dip. Cantab.,  It was these books, that convinced Laurence Roche to persue a lifetime career in forestry.

Professor Roche born in Wexford, Ireland, had eight siblings. His cousin was the novelist John Banville, and besides devouring works by Baker and novels by Thomas Merton theologian and mystic, Roche was widely read. Considering the same trajectory as Richard St. Barbe Baker, Roche contemplated entering a school of Divinity to become a priest, however Baker’s works inspired Roche to leap feet first, and pursue forestry at Trinity College, Dublin receiving his B.A., B. Agr. [Forestry] in 1960. Roche followed up with a traveling scholarship completing his Masters in Science [1962] and Doctorate from the University of British Columbia [1966].


Roche received postings in both Canada for the Canadian Forest Service and Professor of Forestry and Head, Department of Forestry, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria Roche embraced a global view following in the footsteps of Richard St. Barbe Baker. Roche advocated that forests were not isolated economic resources for immediate gain. Tropical forests needed to be viewed and assessed in an ecological and social context, and educated African forestry corps to take a lead in safeguarding their forests.

Working alongside John Bene in 1975, they recommended and established programmes on agrisilviculture in developing countries leading to more efficient land use, programmes to improve the lot of rural forest dwellers, by addressing hunger, shelter and degradation of the environment. John Bene, an indefatiguable Canadian forester and inspiring visionary, initiated priorities on tropical forestry research and lead the way to establish the International Centre for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF) [now known as the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre] in 1977.

“The relationship of populations to their ecosystems is the forest geneticist’s central area of inquiry, and, if he is to gain a fairly complete understanding of these relationships, he must regard the intricate patterns of evolution and coevolution. Therefore, forest genetics engages in ecosystems biology, or, more narrowly, in population biology. ..The environmental conditions that permit a population to survive permanently, and with which this population interacts, today are usually designated as its “ecological niche.” ~Laurence Roche [10]

world-kids-Roche recognized that “almost all tree species studied to date exhibit habitat-correlated, genetically based variation. When the species is distributed over a wide range of environments, variation within a species is often very great. It is this variation, referred to as the genetic resources of the species, which is the basis of evolutionary development, and the starting point for selection and breeding programmes. Such programmes are virtually non-existant for tropical trees. ~ Laurence Roche.[3]”

Following his work with IDRC advisor Bene, to integrate forestry, and agriculture with animal husbandry to optimize tropical forest land use, Roche accepted a position as Professor Department of Forestry and Wood Science, School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, University College of North Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd.

Roche was the founding father of the “Journal of Forest Ecology and Management,” a peer reviewed periodical focusing on the forest ecology interaction with forest management, alongside innovation and research in the fields of biological, ecological and social issues in regards to the management and conservation of natural forests and their biosphere. Forest Ecology and Management is committed to open access bringing forward new ideas and approaches to forest management, and forest ecology.

The spirit and zeal of Professor Roche continued following his retirement. Though settling down in Madaboy, Murroe, Co. Limerick, Ireland, Roche continued to advocate for the tropical forest, making frequent journeys. Roche also provided counsel to the Food and Agricultural Organisation headquartered in Rome. According to Trevor West, Roche was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole [The Order of Agricultural Merit] in 1991, and was elected an honorary fellow of Trinity College Dublin [TCD] in 1993.

“I had news that an ecological survey was being undertaken in the Sahara, to the North of the Gold Coast, and I learnt that the local tribesmen had been forced by increased desertification to retreat to a small patch of land, the last remaining patch of forest in the area.  There was desert behind them for a thousand miles, and desert to either side of them for a thousand miles, the chiefs had forbidden marriage and the women refused to bear children because the end of the forest was in sight….I was determined that the Kenyans should never have to suffer such an appalling social and ecological disaster.”  Richard St. Barbe Baker.


1. Forest Ecology and Management  Science to Sustain the World’s Forests Editors-in-Chief: Mark Adams, Dan Binkley, Todd S. Fredericksen, Jean-Paul Laclau, Harri Mäkinen, Cindy E. Prescott, Yowhan Son

2. Major figure in Third World Forestry Sat. Dec. 4, 1999. The Irish Times.

3. Roche, Laurence. Conserving Endangered Tree Species. The Road to Extinction: Problems of Categorizing the Status of Taxa Threatened with Extinction : Proceedings of a Symposium Held by the Species Survival Commission, Madrid, 7 and 9 November 1984
IUCN conservation library International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
Editors Richard Fitter, Maisie Fitter Contributors International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Species Survival Commission, United Nations Environment Programme  Edition illustrated. Publisher IUCN, 1987. ISBN 2880329299, 9782880329297

4. Roche, Laurence. Neglected value of green city lungs New Scientist. 8 Sep 1977. Vol. 75, No. 1068. ISSN 0262-4079

5. Roche, Laurence. Report on trhree weeks consultancy in Forest Genetics Resources Conservation, Brazil. Consultant Final Report IICA/Embrapa-Procensul II Publisher Bib. Orton IICA / CATIE. JUne 254-July 14, 1987.

6. Roche, L. Gene Resource Conservation International Union of Forestry Research Organisations (IUFRO) Working Party S2.02.2 L. Roche. Head Department of Forestry University of Ibada, Nigeria.

7. Roche, Laurence “The Profession of Forestry Now and in the Year 2000.” The Commonwealth Forestry Review, vol. 71, no. 1, 1992, pp. 13–19. JSTOR, JSTOR,

8. Roche, Laurence The Professional Forester and the Farmer: One Man’s Experience.” The International Forestry Review, vol. 1, no. 2, 1999, pp. 112–114. JSTOR, JSTOR,

9. Roche, Laurence The Silvicultural Significance of Geographic Variation in the White Engelmann Spruce Complex in British Columbia
The Forestry Chronicle, 1970, 46(2): 116-125,

10. Stern, Dr. Klaus and Laurence Roche. Genetics of Forest Ecosystems
Volume 6 of Ecological Studies
Edition illustrated. Publisher Springer Science & Business Media, 2012. ISBN 3642655173, 9783642655173. Page 1 and 3.

11. West, Trevor. Roche, Laurence . Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge University Press.

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:
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Where is the George Genereux Urban Regional Park (Afforestation Area)? with map

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

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“St. Barbe’s unique capacity to pass on his enthusiasm to others. . . Many foresters all over the world found their vocations as a result of hearing ‘The Man of the Trees’ speak. I certainly did, but his impact has been much wider than that. Through his global lecture tours, St. Barbe has made millions of people aware of the importance of trees and forests to our planet.” Allan Grainger

“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

“In the words of Henry van Dyke, America’s greatest tree poet,
‘He that planteth a tree is a servant of God;
He provideth a kindness for many generations
And faces that he hath not seen shall bless him.’ ”

Richard St. Barbe Baker

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