The launch event for the National Forest Week webinar and in-person event series is scheduled for Saturday September 18, and the excitement will continue until Sunday September 26. The goal is to promote discussion about trees and forests, and their multiple and essential benefits. The health of trees is being affected by climate change but trees are also a necessary solution in mitigating it. We aim to raise awareness about what trees and forests give us and what we need to do in return to protect and enhance trees and forests. Its our mission to continue bringing education and awareness for environmental protections, and nature based solutions to climate action. If you are interested in speaker or mentorship opportunities with the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. Contact us.
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.
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.
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]
Let us know what you are doing for Canada’s very own National Forest Week in the province of Saskatchewan!
National Forest Week
Saturday September 18, 2021 to Sunday September 26, 2021 Maple Leaf Day September 22, 2021
So as we are making some exciting plans for National Forest Week, we would like to hear from you and your exciting adventures, and ways you are celebrating trees and forests in September. The theme for National Forest Week this year, 2021 is, “Our Forests – Continually Giving.”
Doesn’t that imagery just resonate with you? -Our Forests – Continually Giving-a delightful theme. National Forest Week hosted around Canada’s very own Maple Leaf Day is a time to explore the amazing benefits of trees and forests as they support biodiversity and ecosystems, mitigate flooding, raise the water table, absorb carbon dioxide, provide life-saving oxygen as well as providing amazing greenspace for recreation and healthy lifestyles. It’s a celebration to focus on forest heritage, culture, and history highlighting the importance of trees, their essential ecological services. It’s a time for residents to tell stories about their love of trees, and appreciation of forests and how very blessed we are.
The value of forests helps us take action for the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations such as good health and wellbeing, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, climate action (forests are carbon sinks), life on land, peace justice and strong institutions, partnerships for the future we want.
Have you had a deep, meaningful holistic connection or experience with nature? Have you had the chance to explore and immerse yourself in the afforestation areas – Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area or George Genereux Urban Regional Park. These local forests are a great way to experience a mixed-woods boreal-like forest in a moist grasslands prairie eco-system without driving north past the tree-line.
Share how you are sharing your love of forests during National Forest Week, we would love to include your enthusiasm and plans in our calendar and let the world know how many forest guardians there are celebrating National Forest Week in September, 2021!
If you are a teacher or homeschooler we have been collecting some nature and forest curriculum based resources while developing our afforestation curriculum resources. How very exciting – so stay tuned!
We will let you in on a little secret about Saskatoon’s hidden treasures.
We are also proud to announce our planning for two 50th anniversaries. Whomever has heard of Richard St. Barbe Baker by some estimates the world’s first global conservationist, and very likely the world’s first climate change activist as well. Baker did amazing feats in the era before television and internet. Everyone knows David Suzuki and David Attenborough. Baker was a visionary ahead of his era, and has inspired the planting of over billions of trees during his lifetime, and later billions of trees were lanted by global organizations motivated and galvanized to action from Baker’s example.
We are also celebrating another 50th anniversary with the birthday for the afforestation areas in Saskatoon. This celebration is truly a way to focus our vision of living together on the land in the spirit of Witaskêwin, and highlight the rich geological, historical, natural, and cultural heritage of the areas to honour where we have been. Science, conservation, hands-on learning about the land, environment and sustainability ensure our future. Experience nature immersion at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park.