Man-made Mixed-wood Forest on the Prairies

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.

Afforestation Areas in Saskatoon

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.

Hoar frost at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Hoar frost at the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

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]

The 148 acre George Genereux Urban Regional Park is also located in the City of Saskatoon at GPS 52.1132971,-106.7861112 [near Sk Highway 7]

Wildlife Montage. Red Winged Blackbird, White Tailed Deer Fawn, Garter Snake, JackRabbit, Mallard Ducklings, Black Crowned Night Heron
Wildlife Montage in the afforestation areas. Red Winged Blackbird, White Tailed Deer Fawn, Garter Snake, JackRabbit, Mallard Ducklings, Black Crowned Night Heron


What is a Friends Group?


The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc. was formed as a non-profit incorporation in the same manner as other Saskatoon non-profit groups which support and advocate for their benefactor, respectively.

Friends of the Library  is “a fundraising and advocacy group for Saskatoon Public Library”.  It is known that “Libraries need Friends – it’s just that simple. In fact,… many public libraries were established through the efforts of community members who understood the value of libraries to their communities and also understood that libraries needed community support to survive”

Friends of the Forestry Farm House  has a “mandate to increase awareness of the history of the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo by:a) preserving the Superintendent’s Residence and b) encouraging interpretation of the site.”

Friends of the Bowl Foundation is “about modernizing Saskatoon Minor Football Field allowed us to enhance the visitor and user experience by adding offices, change rooms, meeting spaces, and event and entertainment facilities.”  The Friends is “about rising to every challenge and tackling obstacles head on, because we know that adversity builds character.”

So the question is, if libraries, heritage sites, and sports complexes need “friends” why not forests?  Do not forests and trees need “friends” to raise money and support them? Do not forests and trees need “friends” to raise money and support them, especially when they are absolutely so beautiful to wander through in all the seasons of the year?

The afforestation areas are prime historical, natural and geological heritage sites.  Two afforestation areas have survived since 1972 tree planting as a Saskatoon parks department tree nursery, a heritage testament to Saskatoon as a “Green Survival” City.  The site’s dramatic and diverse landscape topography dominated by natural features, particularly swales and wetlands, and diverse varieties of mature trees, shrubs, plants and ponds that achieve a pastoral appearance; – the landscape of approximately 660 acres in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, and additional 160 acres at George Genereux Urban Regional Park are laid out in a park-like manner with planning in the “picturesque” style, design, with the placement and juxtaposition of afforested and natural features that combine to create panoramic perspectives that include mature trees, shrubs.

The afforestation areas feature the preservation of the original indigenous aspen groves and tracts of undisturbed and uncultivated moist mixed grass prairie vegetation throughout the framework of the park. The natural and original setting in the South Saskatchewan River watershed, part of the Moist Mixed Grasslands near Saskatoon that contain Cottonwood, Aspen Grove and Mixed woodland forests, numerous springs, wetlands, and marshes, etc.

The natural green corridor which provides habitats to a variety of indigenous plants, trees and fauna intermixed with drought resistant specimens of exotic species of trees advised under the leading authority of the foremost PFRA of the time.    The afforestation areas are compliant with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change featuring closed forest formations of various storeys and undergrowth and are conforming to the forest concept under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity featuring a complex, continuous, mature forest system of trees, animals and humans.  The afforestation areas act as natural carbon sinks, maintains biodiversity, provides flood control, creates breathable air, carbon storage, healthy maintenance of soils, water purifications, micro- and macro-climate control, and nutrient cycling.

The forests are valued at over Thirty Nine Billion Dollars and act as carbon sinks.  They are named after Richard St. Barbe Baker, O.B.E., L.L.D. and George Genereux who are two outstanding Saskatoon personages.  Additionally, the wetlands namesake, Chappell Marsh commemorates Canadian National Railway General Superintendent Saskatchewan district Benjamin Thomas Chappell who was honoured as Chief Iron Horse, during a sacred ceremonial function by eight Cree chiefs.

How can you help?  Become a member at only $20/year, make a donation, volunteer to help out or serve on the board of directors.  Donations and membership can be made through Paypal or Etransfer using the e-mail friendsafforestation AT  Thank you kindly.

Just as “Friends” support libraries for instance, it is wonderful to acknowledge the efforts of community members who understand the value of forests to their communities and also understand that forests need community support to survive.

If you value your time spent wandering through the woods, consider becoming a member, at $20/year it is less than a movie for one night, and you know you are contributing to saving the forest for many, many days of forest outings throughout the year!

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

Pinterest richardstbarbeb

Facebook Group Page: Users of the George Genereux Urban Regional Park

Facebook: StBarbeBaker

Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

Facebook: South West OLRA

Twitter: StBarbeBaker

You Tube Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

You Tube George Genereux Urban Regional Park

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

Support the afforestation areas with your donation or membership ($20.00/year).  Please donate by paypal using the e-mail friendsafforestation AT, 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!

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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


“The science of forestry arose from the recognition of a universal need. It embodies the spirit of service to mankind in attempting to provide a means of supplying forever a necessity of life and, in addition, ministering to man’s aesthetic tastes and recreational interests. Besides, the spiritual side of human nature needs the refreshing inspiration which comes from trees and woodlands. If a nation saves its trees, the trees will save the nation. And nations as well as tribes may be brought together in this great movement, based on the ideal of beautifying the world by the cultivation of one of God’s loveliest creatures – the tree.” ~ Richard St. Barbe Baker.



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