Download the Field Guide to the Ecosites of Saskatchewan’s Provincial Forests

What an amazing treasure written by M.S. McLaughlan, R.A. Wright and R.D. Jiricka for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment to provide ecosystem classification and ecological interpretations.

“Ecosystem management is place-based and the boundaries of
the place of concern must be clearly and formally defined.”

“A good understanding of a site’s ecological conditions, the relationship amongst different sites, and the response of those sites to disturbance and time is an important aspect of resource management.” source

So what exactly is an afforestation area?  As is the case with the afforestation areas existing at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and the “George Genereux” Urban Regional park?

“Afforestation is the establishment of a forest or stand of trees (forestation) in an area where there was no previous tree cover.  Many government and non-governmental organizations directly engage in programs of afforestation to create forests, increase carbon capture and carbon sequestration, and help to anthropogenically improve biodiversity.”

“Reforestation is the natural or intentional restocking of existing forests and woodlands (forestation) that have been depleted, usually through deforestation. Reforestation can be used to rectify or improve the quality of human life by soaking up pollution and dust from the air, rebuild natural habitats and ecosystems, mitigate global warming since forests facilitate biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and harvest for resources, particularly timber, but also non-timber forest products.”

“A similar concept, afforestation, another type of forestation, refers to the process of restoring and recreating areas of woodlands or forests that may have existed long ago but were deforested or otherwise removed at some point in the past or lacked it naturally (e.g., natural grasslands). Sometimes the term “re-afforestation” is used to distinguish between the original forest cover and the later re-growth of forest to an area. Special tools, e.g. tree planting bars, are used to make planting of trees easier and faster.”

“Deforestation, clearance, or clearing is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a non-forest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use.”  “Deforestation imbalances the balance of natural climate which lead to the global warming by increasing the CO2 and decreasing the O2 percentage all across the world.”

“Outside of combat, war efforts had other ecological impacts.  European wheat demand in World War I led to the plowing up of about 6 million hectares of grasslands on the American High Plains and in Canada’s Prairie Provinces.  This helped prepare the way for the dust bowl of the 1930s.  The British War effort in World War II consumed about half of Britain’s forests.  …Frantic drives to raise production of food, fuel, minerals, and other resources led to sharp ecological disruptions in every combatant nation, as did crash road- and railroad- building efforts.” J.R. McNeill; Ideas Matter: A Political History of the Twentieth Century Environment.

“The Last Best West” was the campaign was operated by the Minister of the Interior Clifford Sifton, appointed by Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier to oversee settlement of the west.  “Between 1891 and 1914, more than three million people came to Canada, largely from continental Europe, following the path of the newly constructed continental railway.” During this settlement period under the Dominion Lands Act, how many acres were deforested across Saskatchewan?

How many trees deforested during the homestead and immigration area were re-forested?  How many trees deforested to grow Wheat crops for the war effort were re-forested?  Current practices enumerate reforestation methods used in contemporary times, however when Richard St. Barbe Baker worked in the logging camp near Big River, what were the reforestation practices of that era?  Have these trees been re-forested?  Besides carbon sequestration, and the life giving properties of trees, is not history, also, another good reason for creating more afforestation areas?

“The use of afforestation as strategy of conservation of forest biomes is seen as a menace to the conservation of natural grassland and savanna biomes, as the ideal would be the reforestation of areas where forest occurs naturally.”  The trees afforested in Saskatoon were drought resistant species, inclusive of native tree plantings, as well as introduced trees.  With the evolution of the eco-system since 1972 when the afforestation areas were started as tree nurseries, the natural biome of the Saskatoon Plain region in the Moist Mixed Grassland Eco-region is re-asserting itself.

In 1972, Manchurian Elm, and American Elm were afforested, along with hardy drought resistant tree species such as Colorado Blue Spruce, Balsam-poplar, Scotch Pine, and Caragana. If Green Ash, Manitoba Maple or Willow were planted, there was not a large survival rate of these in the afforestation area. Native prairie Trembling Aspen Groves, roses, buffaloberry, and snowberry are mixed within the afforested woodlands.

The City of Saskatoon is fortunate in being a river city, encompassing the South Saskatchewan River.

“Each of the forest type and wetland keys associated with the ecozones uses three primary features to distinguish the most likely ecosite: 1) abiotic condition (e.g. , moisture regime), 2) plant species present on the site, and 3) cover values associated with the plant species. The abiotic condition assessment identified in the keys is primarily used to distinguish between wetland and terrestrial conditions. It relies on the identification of:
  • Depth of organic material,
  • Depth to water table,
  • Permanently frozen condition, and
  • Moisture regime.” source


Aspen Parkland  makes up the natural vegetation around Saskatoon sccording to J. Thorpe (Atlas of Saskatchewan Millenium Edition).  The Aspen Parkland features a gradation between grasslands and wooded landscapes.  The predominant woodlands feature Trembling Aspen stands with “Snowberry (Synphoricarpos spp.), rose (Rosa spp), saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), chokecherry (Prunus virginia) and a variety of Herbs” Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera) are interspersed with “eastern” hardwoods, green ash, Manitoba Maple, American Elm, and plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides var. occidentalis).

Saskatoon belongs to the Moist Mixed Grassland Eco-region most specifically, the Saskatoon Plain.  The afforestation areas reside within the West Swale, a wetlands area and a part of the South Saskatchewan River watershed.  The north end of Chappell Marsh, a permanent wetlands, is an invaluable habitat for waterfowl.

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:

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: ***