The afforestation areas have a unique sense of place. Place and the sacredness of place is something that indigenous people feel are being lost in this day of truth and reconciliation.
Places are embodied with the aura of that which is sacred or holy and can be dedicated as sacred places as can be objects, artifacts, or organisms.
In the afforestation areas is a species at risk, an endangered species which means that it is of minute and scarce quantity in danger of disappearing entirely. This species at risk is sacred to indigenous people and to other cultures as its very name bears homage to that which is holy.
It is with heavy heart that a desecration occurred with a great disrespect to indigenous cultures, and to the community of the afforestation areas. The population and afforestation area community are stewards and guardians of the afforestation area, and respect the gift of greenspace afforded to them to be in the great out of doors. There is a diverse community of users who have pride in the afforestation areas, and consider it special. It is with sorrow to say that there are those who do not honour and respect the gift which the community has in this urban regional park. It is with great disrespect, when a species at risk has been so vandalized and desecrated in the afforestation areas.
There is much loss and anguish for the extirpation of the bison from the plains historically. In this day of age with Traditional Ecological Ways of Knowing, and western scientific knowledge shared through Species at Risk Act SARA, The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre that extirpation of species is seeing history repeating itself. Why would anyone wish to wilfully and maliciously extirpate a species at risk? Why would anyone wish to despoil, wreck, raze, devastate a species at risk which is accorded a high honour within our indigenous community, as well as in other cultures globally? Why would anyone wish the bison to disappear from the plains?
If anyone has any clues or reports to be made in protection of the afforestation areas, please call the Provincial Government TIPP hotline for illegal forest harvesting. or call the City of Saskatoon Parks department 306-975-2476 or the Meewasin Valley Authority 306-665-6887 Please help protect these places which so many have come to honour and appreciate for a variety of reasons. What is the difference between walking, cycling and skiing in a parking lot and in a forest?
Saturday May 21 marks the first day that all the historic trash in the park has been removed! Where the other year was phenomenal, due to the vast size of the park, a few piles on wayward trails were missed. And now…. and now, the Clean Green Community Scene has created a safe George Genereux Urban Regional Park for exploring and discovering nature.
A huge thank you goes out to ecotourists from Chile, to Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas, to SOS Trees, Meewasin and the City of Saskatoon. It is truly phenomenal to have a very wonderful green space coming into its own. And it was delightful to see all the songbirds, the 13 striped ground squirrel, and other animals peeking their heads out to see what was going on to make their semi-wilderness homes safer!
Thanks again! It is a wonderful time to get the forest all cleaned up as tomorrow, May 22 is the United Nations International Day for Biological Diversity. Wow! What a treat for the International Day for Biological Diversity, indeed.
You are cordially invited to special tree planting ceremony by the University of Saskatchewan collaborating with the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas on World Environment Day (W.E.D.), June 5, 2022
This ceremony echoes a tree planting ceremony 40 years ago to the day of the last tree planted by the Richard St. Barbe Baker in union with the University of Saskatchewan on World Environment Day (W.E.D.), June 5, 1982 near the Diefenbaker Centre. This collaboration between the U of S and Richard St. Barbe Baker on his visit here from New Zealand, honoured him as a former graduate (1913), and recipient of an honorary doctorate in 1971. This tree was the last tree this extraordinary champion of trees and forests planted as he died in Saskatoon four days later. In 2014, the Meewasin Valley Authority placed a marker on the MVA trail near the tree he planted. (photo attached)
As you may know, Baker’s extensive archives were donated to the U of S and are the fourth most requested repository.
At this ceremony dignitaries in Saskatoon will be in attendance for this ceremonial tree planting on the University of Saskatchewan campus in honour of Richard St. Barbe Baker and the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day on June 5, 2022. This occasion would again raise awareness of the environment and the importance of tree planting as part of addressing climate change. St. Barbe Baker is often spoken of as a visionary ahead of his time, having raised the issue of deforestation and climate change in 1922, and then campaigning for the rest of his life for forest protection and large scale tree planting. It was for this life-long pursuit that he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the U of S.
Baker has other connections to Saskatoon; he was one of the first 100 students at the U of S, and initiated former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker there. A large afforestation area (132 ha) in Saskatoon was named after Baker by Saskatoon City Council in 1979. The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas is a non-profit community organization that works with the City and Meewasin to protect and enhance this area.
Our goal is to have a ceremonial tree planting event that marks W.E.D and honours Baker’s legacy, in that 2022 is also the centenary of the International Tree Foundation (ITF) started by St. Barbe Baker in Kenya, known then as the Men of the Trees. The ITF is also planning celebrations that we can link with and we would aim to have the media cover the event.
We include a few tributes to Richard St Barbe Baker, including one by former president, J.W.T. Spinks.
Thank you for your consideration in attending this public event and letting others know of the commemoration. It is truly appreciated.
“The simple act of planting a tree, which is in itself a practical deed, is also the symbol of a far reaching ideal, which is creative in the realm of the Spirit, and in turn reacts upon society, encouraging all to work for the future well being of humanity rather than for immediate gain. Richard St. Barbe Baker.
J.W.T. Spinks, Past President of the University of Saskatchewan, spoke about Richard St. Barbe Baker at his funeral.
“My first close contact with St. Barbe Baker came… when the University bestowed on him the Honorary Degree of LL.D. St. Barbe Baker was proud of his long connection with the University of Saskatchewan going back over seventy years, and renewed from time to time particularly over the last dozen years.
My last contact with St. Barbe Baker was last Saturday when Mary and I were privileged to attend a tree planting ceremony on the river bank, just west of the Diefenbaker Centre, a most beautiful spot with a most beautiful view. It was most moving to see and hear St. Barbe Baker talking to the children present at the tree planting, taking their hands in his hands, and repeating with them the motto:
‘From our hearts
With our Hands
For the Earth
All the World Together.’
The original thoughts and life-long actions of St. Barbe Baker and his dedication to the trees of the world will have made broader and broader impact on the peoples of the world. What greater memorial could the Man of the Trees wish or ask for?”
London Times obituary
“Baker deserves to be remembered as one of the very first men to realise that we were destroying the natural resources of the world faster than was prudent; and that trees were not only providers of timber, pulp and fuel, but were also manufacturers of life-giving oxygen from the waste products of man, and his machines, and …even more importantly, inducers of rain when assed in sufficient numbers.”
Jane Goodall, Founder Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots
“Why have we not heard of this extraordinary Man of the Trees, Richard St Barbe Baker? He was without doubt, one of the greatest advocates for the protection and restoration of forests ever. I am amazed by his life and accomplishments. He is one of my heroes.”
HRH The Prince of Wales
St Barbe, as his friends called him, was a true pioneer. Long before the science of climate change was understood, he had warned of the impact of forest loss on climate. He raised the alarm and prescribed a solution….Behind St Barbe Baker’s prescience was his deep spiritual conviction about the unity of life. He had listened intently to the Indigenous people with whom he worked and seen a similar sensibility in the then new sciences of ecology and silviculture.”
Our goal is to aim towards UN SDG 2 -Zero Hunger- when the time is right and if approved. Richard St. Barbe Baker promoted the concept of agro-forestry in Kenya, Africa before the concept or word was invented in contemporary times. In this way Baker supported the health and survival of the Kikuyu. In a similar vein, there may possibly and perchance be a future opportunity to do restoration work in the afforestation areas in support of agroforestry endeavours, pollinator gardens, and food forests.
Contributing to UN SDG 3 -Good Health and Well-being- currently the Legacy of Saskatoon’s Secret Forest package follows Richard St. Barbe Baker’s International Tree Foundation mission ‘to develop a tree sense in every citizen, and to encourage all to plant, protect and love their native trees.” By protecting trees, there is protection of the 132 hectares [326 acre] Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area in Saskatoon, and the 60 hectare [148 acre] George Genereux Urban Regional Park for health and wellness as people come out to an urban greenspace to reap the benefits of cycling, walking in nature which has multiple health benefits as extolled by the Canadian PaRx program, shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”)
UN SDG 4 -Quality Education -is supported by an educational package in pdf format available for free download for the general public, teachers, classrooms worldwide to experience place based learning and immerse in the morphology of Richard St. Barbe Baker’s humanitarian efforts advocating for forests and trees worldwide.
UN SDG 5 -Gender Equality- is supported by encouraging everyone to take Baker’s Watu Wa Miti (Forest guardian) pledge to 1/ plant ten trees, seedlings or seeds each year 2/ take care of trees everywhere 3/ Do a good deed every day. By encouraging all to do a good deed every day, then environmental conservation, stewardship and guardianship creates a safe greenspace for all users. Illegal trespass is not encouraged to support gender equality for the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas and all efforts are being followed to mitigate all illegal trespass and to encourage legitimate users and the general public of Saskatoon who honour UN SDG 5.
UN SDG 6 -Clean Water and Sanitation- has seen a great partnership with members of the community to become as Watu Wa Miti and take care of trees everywhere. Richard St. Barbe Baker said “Men and trees, water and trees, man and water are inseparable. This is the trinity of life.” As the community has repeatedly come together to protect trees, in a partnership with the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup the West Swale Wetlands named Chappell Marsh are protected. The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas have had a great partnership with the City of Saskatoon, Meewasin, SOS Trees, Montgomery Place community Association, Fatlanders Fatbike Brigade, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Saskatoon Baha‘i community, Len’s Hauling, the CISV, Children’s International Summer Village, and the Peace Bus programme and we are grateful to many more who have come out to restore the wetlands and greenspace environs for human visitors, the semi-wilderness habitat and the species at risk who make these areas their home. The afforestation areas situated in the West Swale is a watershed created by the Yorath Island Glacial Spillway connecting the North Saskatchewan River, and draining into the South Saskatchewan River, the locale of the City of Saskatoon’s drinking water.
UN SDG 7 -Affordable and Clean Energy- is supported in following the example of Richard St. Barbe Baker who wrote many books, and spoke on radio programs about the importance of education and awareness. The heritage and environmental tours, and interpretive programming focuses on messages by both SK Energy and Sk Power for providing to our province much needed power and energy in a cold semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) near the humid continental climate (Dfb), with typically warm summers and long, cold winters. Energy conservation strategies are brought forward in the Friends interpretive and tour packages.
UN SDG 11- Sustainable Cities and Communities – ties well into the legacy of Richard St. Barbe Baker who travelled by steam boat between the two Great Wars led campaigns around the world including the reclamation projects for the world’s deserts and protection of virgin forests from destruction. The International Tree Foundation was established by Baker at its height in over 105 countries. Baker, one of the first students at the fledgling University of Saskatchewan, always wished to have a branch of the ITF here in Canada. Working in that vision, the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas, work with the City of Saskatoon, Meewasin, green groups and classrooms in Saskatoon and around the world to follow in Richard St. Barbe Baker’s footsteps so vital in this era of climate change, and in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
UN SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production- is so very vital to the protection of forests and trees, along with wetland habitats. There are certain items so easy to recycle which the flora and fauna of forest and wetlands cannot use sustainably. By following Baker’s Watu Wa Miti pledge “take care of trees everywhere” the legitimate users in the forest help to support a “Leave no Trace” greenspace ethic. Reduce, reuse, recycle takes action on waste reduction- and protects our forests and wetlands.
UN SDG 13 – Climate Action- is supported by this Green Survival initiative of the City of Saskatoon to plant and preserve 660 acres of afforestation areas in 1972. The early parks department initiative of 1972 did indeed follow Baker’s Watu Wa Miti pledge to 1/ plant ten trees, seedlings or seeds each year 2/ take care of trees everywhere 3/ Do a good deed every day. Richard St. Barbe Baker founded, assisted and inspired were responsible for planting at least 26 billion trees, internationally, during his lifetime. International groups founded from his inspiration, continue onwards planting trees! “When the trees go, the rain goes, the climate deteriorates, the water table sinks, the land erodes and desert conditions soon appear”.~Richard St. Barbe Baker
UN SDG 14 – Life below water- is supported by realizing and supporting the legacy of Richard St. Barbe Baker Baker said, “Trees above all are the beings which attract the waters of the Trees above all are the beings which attract the waters of the firmament, conserve them in their shade, govern the whole vegetable kingdom in its great economy of water, leading it gently into springs, streams and rivers and maintaining fertile potency in the soil of a region.“
UN SDG 15 – Life on Land- is honoured time and time again by the work, teachings, and legacy of Richard St. Barbe Baker. “The importance of forests cannot be underestimated. We depend on forests for our survival, from the air we breathe to the wood we use. Besides providing habitats for animals and livelihoods for humans, forests also offer watershed protection, prevent soil erosion and mitigate climate change. Yet, despite our dependence on forests, we are still allowing them to disappear.” (WWF, 2019) The World Wildlife Fund WWF, made St. Barbe the very first inaugural Honorary Life Member.
UN SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – was apparent in Baker’s holistic worldview as he met and learned the Kikuyu language in Kenya Africa, and implemented an agro-forestry campaign to provide food for a population facing extirpation from colonial slash and burn agricultural methods employed at the time of Baker’s Kenya posting as Assistant Conservator of Forests. From there Baker went on to create this working model of the International Tree Foundation, which inspired the formation of other World Green Groups. Ecologists, environmentalists, conservationists who knew Richard St. Barbe Baker were honoured and grateful to spoke to the legacy of Richard St. Barbe Baker during the heritage documentary.
UN SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals- has been discussed already in this article. Local groups adopting stewardship and guardianship roles for the afforestation areas as users of the greenspace are amazing in supporting the UN SDG goals as mentioned. International environmental groups, and persons locally and from around the world coming together to advocate for the example set by Baker, supports local and UN SDG goals is totally enlightening! The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas have seen some remarkable examples of the provincial motto; multis e gentibus vires: from many peoples, strength. Richard St. Barbe Baker had a similar motto, Twihamwe or Twahamwe, a word from the Kikuyu of Kenya, Africa.
“Kind people have been expressing superlatives on my work. But I can assure you that anything which I have been able to achieve has been team work. We have a motto in the Men of the Trees. TWAHAMWE. It is an African word meaning ‘pull together’ and I pass this on to all those concerned with conservation in this country. I would like to call you to silence for a moment with the words of Mathew Arnold:
“Calm soul of all things, make it mine, To feel amidst the City ‘s jar That there abides a peace of thine Men did not make and cannot mar. ”
In love with Saskatoon and Area’s incredible nature? You can help observe on iNat & protect it by joining this year’s #CityNatureChallenge, April 29–May 2! All you need to join is a smartphone and the free @inaturalist app. Learn more at FriendsAreas.ca Explore back yards, the afforestation areas, along the boulevards of our city streets, in the nooks and crannys of fences and trees. Participating is easy: just make observations of wild plants, animals, and fungi, anywhere in the Saskatoon and Area with the free @inaturalist app April 29 – May 2, and they’ll automatically be added to this project.
The CNC was organized by citizen science staff at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (Lila Higgins) and California Academy of Sciences (Alison Young). The City Nature Challenge has become a global effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe in support of world conservation efforts. It’s a fun citizen science event with a challenge where cities are in a contest against each other to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people.
Being involved is super easy!
connect with nature- fungi, insects, Plants and Wildlife
From the CNC FAQ page; Take photos, or sound recordings of “any observations of WILD plants, animals, fungi, seaweed, bacteria, lichen, etc. you find in and around your city! Observations of living or dead organisms, or evidence of those organisms, like shells, seeds, tracks, scat, pinecones, feathers, etc., are fine. Remember to make sure you’re taking good photos of the organisms!”
Take a Picture
Take a picture of what you discover in nature. The iNaturalist app records the GPS location of the critter or plant – and you can set it to obscured or leave it as publicly known. (Don’t change location to private or it won’t be part of the City Nature Challenge)
There is nature all around us, even in our cities! As the urban footprint and the human monoculture keeps expanding, nature is often overlooked in our cities, which has become a safe haven for many wild animals who no longer have a wild habitat. You cannot protect what you don’t know, and all of us – citizen scientists, scientists, land managers, and the community – come together in Twihamwe “working together as one” to find and document the nature in our area. The Saskatchewan Motto strengthens the volunteer spirit of the City Nature Challenge’ Multis e Gentibus Vires (Latin) (“From Many Peoples Strength!”) By participating in the City Nature Challenge, you can learn more about your local nature, and at the same time you can also make your city a better place – for you and nature!
For the COVID-19 pandemic, some modifications were implemented into the City Nature Challenge 2020 and 2021 to help keep both organizers and participants safe. It is way more important to focus on collaboration rather than competition. And we want to know about and embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the sharing of unique stories, species, habitat ranges found during the CNC. Look inside your own homes, in your own yard, in your local bus stop, along your boulevard or local park. Keep safe, follow all health guidelines for COVID, follow all health guidelines for nature as well! This year’s City Nature Challenge is a hybrid between collaboration and competition.
Check back later to see the conversation about your observation!
iNaturalist is an free observation platform that uses both computer recognition vision technology alongside crowd sourced corroboration that acts as a place for people to record biodiversity observations, interact with other enthusiasts, and learn about organisms. Observations from iNaturalist also enrich biodiversity science within open science projects such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). Scientists (and anyone) can freely access and use these data to address their research questions. iNaturalist is as easy to use as 1-2-3!
This guide, along with YouTube Videos, and planned Virtual events for volunteers who wish to take part will walk you through recommendations for the best ways to use iNaturalist with students in formal or informal settings so they learn from the experience and contribute high-quality observations to the iNaturalist community.
What kinds of observations of nature should I make during the CNC?
Any observations of WILD plants, animals, fungi, seaweed, bacteria, lichen, etc. you find in and around your city! Remember to check under the leaves of your cultivated plants. Observations of living or dead organisms, or evidence of those organisms, like shells, tracks, scat, feathers, etc., are fine. Remember to make sure you’re taking good photos of the organisms!
Celebrate 50 years! Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional park were planted to trees in 1972, 50 years ago. Come out and say Happy Birthday!
What will you find, today, April 14, Look Up at the Sky Day? Take a break, and discover a whole new experience! While you are outside have a great time experiencing our Land of Living Skies in Saskatchewan, take some pictures of the geese flying overhead. Download the free iNaturalist app, and share the migratory birds you see with everyone!
Remember, also to look up at the sky between April 29 to May 2 and wonder at the songbirds, and butterflies you may see overhead. What do you think of the population count of these high fliers? This is what the City Nature Challenge will help specialist scientists around the world discover. April 29 is 16 days away, are you ready? Do you know where you are going to explore?
Are butterflies and their morphological changes on cue for the passing of the seasons? Are birds migrating at the same time as last year? Is the range of various species of songbirds shrinking or expanding? Is the number of bird species and butterfly species shrinking or expanding.
Your input to iNaturalist is important! Taking action locally can make a difference for a specialist scientist using iNaturalist to track trends and changes in our biodiversity. Become a citizen scientist helper for specialist scientists the world over.
Birds learn how to fly, never knowing where the flight will take them.
Celebrate 50 years! Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional park were planted to trees in 1972, 50 years ago. Come out and say Happy Birthday!
As many naturalist know who come out to the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and to George Genereux Urban Regional Park there are goldenrods (Solidago.) The species of goldenrods overlap the two parks, and yet there are different species of goldenrods in each park as the native plants combined with the different and varied combination of deciduous and evergreen plantings giving rise to different microbiomes as you progress through the afforestation area greenspaces.
This species at risk- Goldenrod Gall Fly (Eurosta solidaginis) – was discovered through citizen science on the iNaturalist app.
In this YouTube, John Reynolds, Chair of Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada COSEWIC as well as Ecology Professor at Simon Fraser University speaks to the habitats and the species at risk wildlife including Amphibians and Reptiles; Arthropods; Birds; Freshwater Fishes; Marine Fishes; Marine Mammals; Molluscs; Mosses and Lichens; Terrestrial Mammals; Vascular Plants. the Canadian Wildlife Federation recognizes the value of iNaturalist to inform the assessment and conservation of endangered species in Canada; iNaturalist Webinar Series: How citizen science provides key data for Endangered Species
Learn more about Species at Risk through these YouTubes. John Reynolds, Chair of Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada COSEWIC as well as Ecology Professor at Simon Fraser University speaks to the habitats and the species at risk wildlife including Amphibians and Reptiles; Arthropods; Birds; Freshwater Fishes; Marine Fishes; Marine Mammals; Molluscs; Mosses and Lichens; Terrestrial Mammals; Vascular Plants. the Canadian Wildlife Federation recognizes the value of iNaturalist to inform the assessment and conservation of endangered species in Canada
Thank you to the Meewasin for getting signs fabricated, inspiration on design, and the installation of the signs. This was a joint project between the Meewasin, City of Saskatoon and the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. with financial support from the Government of Canada Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The wording on the sign follows:
This 132 hectare habitat for plants, birds and wildlife evolved from a farm field planted to trees in 1972. It is now a protected area named in honour of a global conservationist with many ties to Saskatoon. The area is part of the West Swale complex formed by a glacial spillway.
Meewasin is the steward of the South Saskatchewan River Valley and humbly acknowledge the traditional care takers of the land in Treaty 6 Territory and the homeland of the Métis.
Meewasin practices conservation to ensure the health and vibrancy of this naturalized area. Please be respectful of the property, and help protect the plants and wildlife that call it home.
Please help protect / enhance your afforestation areas, please contact the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. (e-mail / e-transfers )Support the afforestation areas with your donation or membership ($20.00/year). Please donate by paypal using the e-mail friendsafforestation AT gmail.com, or by using e-transfers Please and thank you! Your donation and membership is greatly appreciated. Members e-mail your contact information to be kept up to date!
A 326-acre afforestation area, planted as a man-made forest on the prairies, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada was named after Richard St Barbe Baker, aka Man of the Trees. Celebrate this Jubilee celebration 50 years after he received his honorary doctorate at the University of Saskatchewan. The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas have commissioned a documentary about this remarkable man with historical footage, arguably the first global conservationist, and his legacy here in our city. It is based on interviews with several people who knew St Barbe Baker. The program, will also have greetings from conservationists from Australia, Switzerland, Scotland, Britain and the USA who were inspired by St Barbe and who became conservation leaders in their own right.