Spiral shelterbelts

October 1 2018, the first monday in October is World Habitat Day.

How can Richard St. Barbe Baker’s theory of spiral shelters be analyzed?  Is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area an example of afforestation spiral shelter theory being proven successfully?   In 1972, the parks department planted, or afforested 660 acres of afforestation area as a tree nursery in a greening programme for the City of Saskatoon.  The various trees selected were planted not in straight rows, but rather in circular patterns throughout the land allotment.  What has been noted by horticulturists, and foresters in the comparison of trees planted in semi-circles as opposed to trees planted in straight rows?  How does snow accumulate and what is the effect of seasonal drought and flooding? How does wind react upon trees planted in straight lines, and what is the wind pattern, if trees are planted in spirals?  What can be learned of this practice to improve agricultural methods?  Saskatchewan is a windy province, and is subject to years of drought and high water tables, will a spiral windbreak affect the wind and water cycle on agricultural concerns in our province?

“We submit that water must be a basic consideration in all our national and earth -wide forest programmes; streams and rivers must be restored to their natural motion; and floods and droughts must be eliminated.  Forests and woodlands are intimately linked with biological, social and spiritual well-being.  The minimum tree cover for safety is one-third of the total land area.  Every catchment area should have at least this proportion of tree cover made up of mixed species, including broad-leaf trees, mono-culture in any form being injurious to the land.” segment from The Men of the Trees; The New Earth Charter

“We’re stabilizing the sand with a series of spiral shelters – rows of trees planted in semicircles to catch the winds and create vortices of air,” explains Baker. “The same thing would be valuable on the Canadian prairies where straight shelter belts cause snow to accumulate.” Star Weekly Toronto, On January 15 1972. article title “He’s top man on the world totem pole”

Branta canadensis
Branta canadensis Canada Goose

Ken Liddells’s Column The Calgary Herald Nov 11 1971″He [Baker] says the fight to prevent the spread of the desert is being won. One tool is a series of spiral shelter belts, with openings for grazing cattle. It is effective for most directions of the wind. The funnels lead into circular enclosures to create vortices of air. It would, he said, be valuable on the Canadian Prairies where straight shelter belts cause snow to accumulate and where “the mining of wheat” will be mourned once again, because the dust bowl of the United States is again creeping over that land.”

SandhillCrane
Grus canadensis Sandhill Crane

Trees also break the strength of the wind, creating shelter for other life forms and lesser species of vegetation.  The planting of shelter-belts (best in spiral form) reduces both the wind speed and the dehydration of the soil, creating microclimates that help the soil against erosion through the provision of additional humus and protection,  Indeed shelter belts can influence the evaporation rate over cultivated land by as much as 30 meters upwind and 120 meters downwind, and Canadian research has shown that farms with a third of their land as shelter belts are more productive than farms of equivalent area where there are no trees at all.

These shelter belts also trap Carbon dioxide (CO2), the heaviest naturally occuring atmospheric gas, found mostly in the lowest levels of the atmosphere, and an essential component of photosynthesis.  Increased CO2 under the right conditions will produce stronger photosynthesis.  When trees and hedgerows between fields are removed, productivity falls, because this causes a fall in carbon dioxide.  Trees should be revered as much as water, for together they are both the givers of life.” Hidden Nature: The Startling Insights of Viktor Schauberger By Alick Bartholomew

January2018-0081

Shelterbelts do not have to be planted in rigid, straight lines. A curved shelterbelt on a natural topographical contour line around the north and west sides of your farmyard will look more pleasing.

Shelterbelts can follow the contour of a valley or creek, run in an angle, or even have a circular shape around the yard site. The main consideration is to keep the spacing parallel between rows for ease of between-row cultivation and maintenance. Farmyard shelterbelts Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

The afforestation areas were planted with “the following tree species…Amercian and Siberian Elm, Manitoba Maple, Green Ash, Poplar, Willow, Colorado Spruce, Scotch Pine and Caragana.” The Trembling Aspen, Snowberry, Buffaloberry are examples of native species also prevalent in the afforestation areas.

As a pioneer in afforestation which is applauded in contemporary times as the earth requires trees for “Carbon Sequestration”, and for the “cooling effect” of the summer tree canopy, reducing the heating effect from Climate Change locally. The Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the Afforestation area formerly named “George Genereux” Urban Regional Park were planted uniquely, and could be considered pioneers in Richard St. Barbe Baker’s Spiral Shelterbelt planting theory.

A tractor operated by the City of Saskatoon Parks Department purchased a special tree planting machine to afforest the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the Afforestation area formerly named “George Genereux” Urban Regional Park. The planting process at the afforestation areas began along an outside boundary, and the driver proceeded creating a weaving pattern. The rows would diverge as much as forty feet from the centre line, producing a greater naturalized forest effect rather than strict rows extending linearly. Weaving in and out spirally, and in a curvi-linear fashion creating a much more natural, effect mimicking the genius of Gaia, Mother Nature, herself and her wisdom.

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: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com

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: ***

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Herptology; What is a herptologist?

What a question in the middle of winter, however as spring approaches ~ “Where are the frogs?” is a most excellent query!!!

“Stewards of Saskatchewan” is a voluntary program of the provincial group Nature Saskatchewan.  With this program, volunteer stewards collectively monitor population data on various at risk species.  One of these is the Northern Leopard Frog, (Lithobates pipiens or Rana pipiens) designated as Special Concern in Canada

Please report to the Stewards of Saskatchewan SOS survey, if you sight one of the species on their list.  Did you know that April is Frog month? Celebrate Frog Month with your family!  Find out how to become an amateur herpetologist this April!

Where might be one of the places in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area where  a Northern Leopard Frog could be sighted?

The Chappell Marsh, the permanent wetlands of the West Swale contain water all the time.  But where are the temporary wetlands located?  This is exactly where the frogs are singing their merry songs.  This area for the lands east of  Chappell Marsh in the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is marked as a yellow oval on the attached map.  The Northern Leopard Frog, sings just to the west of the southwest off leash recreation area.

FrogMap
Northern Leopard Frog, Rana Pipiens Map

Just as farmers watch the weather; “In dry years, arable agriculture can fail over large parts of the province, whilst in wet years, flooding has caused widespread damage to rural and urban infrastructure.” “(Pomeroy, 2005)

So, too, do the frogs seem to watch the weather.  During dry years such as those experienced 2015, 2016, and 2017 there were no frogs heard at the Richard St. Barbe  Baker Afforestation Area.  However in 2013 and 2014 frogs were a delight to the years, especially as the Northern Leopard Frog is a species of Special Concern.  As the weather cycles in the province, it can be expected that another year of flooding may follow the very dry years experienced 2015, 2016, and 2017.  The newspapers report the flooding damaging crops, basements and highways however the glorious thing which is missed on the years of high water tables, is that the frogs come back!

There are definitely other areas, such as where the old grid road is being swallowed up by Chappell Marsh near the road turn off to Chappell Marsh Conservation Area.  The old grid road is partially submerged, making it the perfect habitat for frogs [and ducks] as well.

Now then, it would be a very intriguing for a herpetologist,  volunteer ‘Steward of Saskatchewan’ or conservation officer to engage in a project to walk with a GPS app which records altitude.  This project would scan the entirety of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and ‘George Genereux’ Urban Regional park for altitude levels similar to the altitude of the meadow west of the South West Off Leash Recreation Area.  Other areas which provide a rich habitat for the Northern Leopard Frog could be identified in this method for the areas west of Chappell Marsh and in ‘George Genereux’ Urban Regional park.  In this way during years of flooding the Northern Leopard Frog could be surveyed and counted in identified Frog zones.  And accordingly in the years of drought, the environment could remain undisturbed awaiting their safe return.  🙂

Perhaps, just perhaps, this would be a way to ensure the Northern Leopard Frog’s survival.  An altitude test may just help to find the temporary wetlands conducive to the frog’s habitat, and could then be protected from development.  Either that, or developers would need wait until years of high water tables before developing land to determine the habitat for frogs.

Saskatchewan cycles through years of drought and high water tables.  The years 2013, and 2014, saw very,  very high rain levels, spring run off and flooding.  Chappell Marsh itself washed out a grid road, and water pumps were allocated to try to divert the flooding away from Saskatchewan Highway 7 west of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and CN Chappell Yards.  The cycle of very wet conditions was also seen historically over the years 2005, and 2006. (Garnet, 2012)

July 13, 2014, Emily Chan reported “In Saskatchewan, it’s estimated that a total of up to 3 million acres, including some farmland, have already flooded.”   “Highways closed and communities declared states of emergency …, ” reports the Canadian Press on June 30, 2014 due to a deluge of rain.

“From too much rain to not enough — and everyone baking in the heat — communities smashed weather records in July across Saskatchewan.”(Climenhaga, 2017)  Whereas, in direct contrast to the years of 2013 and 2014, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reported that 2016 was the hottest year on record, replacing the record set in 2015. In 2017, “Saskatchewan farmers say drought conditions in some parts of the province are the worst they have seen in decades “(Bridges, 2017)  “Record-breaking temperatures and extremely low rainfalls across Western Canada are causing chaos for farmers and firefighters this summer as they grapple with the worst drought in more than a decade.” {Sikierska, 2015)  Drought also ravaged Saskatchewan over the years 2001 to 2002. (Garnet, 2012)

“Nowhere else  in Canada does the lack or excess of water cause such widespread concern, nor are there many Canadian environments subject to greater seasonal change in precipitation and surface-water storage.”(Pomeroy, 2005)
Drought years have been recorded as 1961, 1967, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1988, 2003, 2009.  Whereas, the flood years are reported  as 1965, 1977, 1986, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2005, 2010.  (Garnet, 2012)
“The trees and vegetation which cover the land surface of the Earth and delight the eye, are therefore performing vital tasks incumbent upon the vegetable world in nature. The glorious rich, colourful, quilted covering of vegetation is not there merely to feed and please us. Its presence is essential to Earth as an organism. It is the first condition to Earth as an organism. It is the first condition of all life; it is the ‘skin of the Earth, for without it there can be no water and, therefore, no life. ” Richard St. Barbe Baker.

Bibliography

2016 Annual Report of Agroclimate Conditions Across Canada Government of Canada Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Bridges, Alicia. Sask. farmers say drought conditions worst in decades. Farmers, ranchers face tough season due to hot, dry weather.  CBC News.

Chan, Emily.  Prairie farmers frustrated as flooding drowns crops.  Ctv News.  July 13, 2014

Climenhaga, Christy.   Regina experiences driest July in 130 years. July topped the charts for hot and dry weather in southern Saskatchewan. CBC News.  Aug. 1, 2017

Cross, Brian. Rising waters wash away land, farmers’ futures . The Western Producer. May 7, 2015

Flooding, highway closures as heavy rain pounds Prairies Canadian Press.  June 30, 2014.

Garnett, Ray and Madhav Khandekar.  From Drought to Wet Cycles The Changing Climate of the Canadian Prairies.  May 3, 2012.

Pomeroy, John, Dirk de Boer and Lawrence Martz.  Hydrology and Water Resources of Saskatchewan.  Centre for Hydrology Report #1.  Department of Geography, University of Saskatchewan February 2005.

Reeve warns flood water could flow over Hwy 11 in Lumsden area CBC News.  May 5, 2013

Saskatchewan flooding: 37 communities declare state of emergency CBC News.  June 30 2014

Sask. Flooding >Flood-battered roads crumbling around eastern Sask. Culverts, bridges, train tracks washed out over a wide area CBC News. July 2, 2014

Siekierska, Alicja.  Hot, dry and disastrous. Western Canada’s drought is taking a toll. Edmonton Journal.  July 25, 2015

Top ten weather stories for 2010: Story three. From Dry to Drenched on the Prairies.  Government of Canada.  Environment and Climate Change Canada.

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: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com

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: ***

 “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