Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas

The Legacy of Saskatoon’s Secret Forest

Date and time

Sat, November 6, 2021
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM CST

About the Event

Inspiring Environmental Action: Ordinary People Doing the Extraordinary

People from Switzerland, Scotland, Hawaii, New York, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, what do these people from around the world have to say about their love of the earth and of trees, and how they first heard of and met Richard St. Barbe Baker? These are truly heart warming stories that they want to share. Their lives changed to follow the words they heard from Richard St. Barbe Baker. How could this one man encourage large groups of people around the world to plant trees? Then how could this man inspire others to create more and more large groups of people to also take care of the earth? What kind of magic did Richard St. Barbe Baker possess that people would stop whatever they were doing to connect with nature and take care of the world? These people, environmental conservationists all, are now, and they have their own story tell about how they began to look after the world from a seed planted by Richard St. Barbe Baker.

Why would forests, streets and avenues around the world be named after Richard St. Barbe Baker? Statues, monuments and plaques were built to remember the story of Richard St. Barbe Baker.


– His Worship, Charlie Clark, Mayor of the City of Saskatoon, SK, CA

– David Kirton, City Councillor, Saskatoon

– Hilary Gough, City Councillor, Saskatoon,

– Andrea Lafond, CEO, Meewasin

Traditional Land Treaty Acknowledgements

Kevin Wesaquate Poet, painter, welder, spoken word artist and founder of the Indigenous Poet’s Society. Originally from Piapot First Nation

Special Thanks To:

-Forest History Society, Durham, NC

-West End Local History Society, UK

-University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections


Robert White, Saskatoon

BSA, MES (Env. St.) Recipient of the first Men of the Trees Prize at the University of Saskatchewan

Paul Hanley, Hawaii

Author of the biography Man of the Trees: Richard St. Barbe Baker; The First Global Conservationist and four other books, and more than 1500 articles on the environment, agriculture, and the future of civilization.

Alan Watson-Featherstone, Scotland

BA Honours Inspirational speaker and the founder of the conservation charity Trees for Life, recipient Schumacher Award, Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Award and RSPB Outstanding Contribution Award.

Leona Graham, Scotland

BA/MA Findhorn Community. World Wilderness congresses, and Director CCF/Cheetah Conservation International Conservation Program Director associated with WILD

David VanVliet, Manitoba, CA

BA, MEDes, PhD. Associate Professor, Department of City Planning, University of Manitoba, CA

Vance Martin, Colorado, USA

BA English/forestry wildlife management. President WILD Foundation, co-founder and President of Wilderness Foundation Global (based in South Africa), & Founder Co-chair of the Wilderness Specialist Group (part of the World Commission on Protected Areas, within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature).

Scott Poynton, Switzerland

MSc Forestry. Founded The Forest Trust, through which major global wood supply companies made historic commitments to zero deforestation. Founder and leader of The Pond Foundation, offering a Carbon Zero program aimed at changing how the world acts on climate change.

Dr. Alan Grainger, England

BSc, DPhil. Researcher and Senior Lecturer in Global Environmental Change and Policy, University of Leeds, U.K

Hugh Locke, New York

B.EnvST. President of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance in Haiti and President of the U.S.-based Impact Farming Foundation


There is a forest in Saskatoon. It is a secret forest which no one had ever heard about. This forest is named after Richard St. Barbe Baker because he planted trees, and here in this park hundreds upon thousands of trees were planted. It was a perfect match. Forest visitors hearing the story of Richard St. Barbe Baker fall in love with the Saskatoon forest and want to protect it. They want to make the forest as special and magnificent as this great man was special and magnificent.

Richard St. Barbe Baker fell in love with trees as a child. He had a bonding experience which filled him with love. He shared this feeling with everyone so that they could feel a oneness and a love for trees like he did. His stories about tree planting were published in books, and on radio shows. Other people heard his stories and decided then and there, that they, too would find this love for trees. Richard St. Barbe Baker went on to create a large global group the International Tree Foundation dedicated to the love of trees, and tree planting. So many people were happy to help him, they loved to be friends with Richard St. Barbe Baker and his ideas. These people who joined with Richard to plant trees and protect trees had a special name – Watu Wa Miti -because the first place Richard St. Barbe Baker started was in Africa. Watu Wa Miti are Forest Scouts or Forest Guardians because of the promise they took to help out. Richard St. Barbe Baker saved their lives.

These trees planted created forests habitats and homes for wildlife. Another global wildlife society Canadian Wildlife Federation- saw the importance of Richard St. Barbe Baker’s work, and gave him an award. The Queen of England and the University of Saskatchewan also gave Richard St. Barbe Baker awards for Richard’s worldwide travels to save the planet to protect and plant trees. So it was that Richard St. Barbe Baker received the order of the British Empire, and 50 years ago was bestowed the honourary Doctorate of Laws by John G. Diefenbaker. At this time Diefenbaker was chancellor of the university and went on to become Prime Minister of Canada.

Trees and forests provide clean air for us to breath, remove the toxins and carbon from the air so our planet’s climate can settle down and be in harmony. Trees and forests also raise the water table, and are a vital part of the water cycle.

Environmental speakers from around the world come together during this time to continue Baker’s message; “If we continue tearing away the earth’s green cloak at the rate we have we soon won’t have enough trees to provide the oxygen we need to survive, and life will disappear from the planet. All that’s required is some intelligent stewardship, it’s a world-wide responsibility.

If a person loses one third of his or her skin, the person will die; if a tree loses a third of its bark, the tree will die, and if the world loses a third of its trees, the world will die.

We live less than five minutes without air and the trees give us air we breath. We live less than five days without water, and trees are absolutely essential in the water cycle. We live less than five weeks without food, and without the trees we could not grow food.”

Richard St. Barbe Baker was an absolutely amazing forester and visionary whose achievements in agro-foresty, social forestry, nature based solutions to climate action and global conservation are an inspiration to us all. This work, created by Aspen Films and the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas Inc., is compiled in memory of the late Richard St. Barbe Baker. This is a global effort, with speakers from around the world who were inspired by Richard St. Barbe Baker. The legacy continues keeping the memory and spirit of Richard St. Barbe Baker alive.

We admire St. Barbe for his vision, and foresight for a green earth. We cherish St. Barbe for his passion, enthusiasm, and dedicated devotion to trees and tree planting around the world.

Here is an opportunity to meet Baker’s network of supporters from around the world. Baker planted seeds in the heart of men. Discover the seedlings who became well-rooted, and took on the responsibility impassioned by Baker to connect with the earth, trees and also with each other. This is a total delight, and a very great privilege to meet conservationists from here at home embracing the deep ecology movement. It is a fortuitous time as well-known global conservationists come together on the same stage relating how they have taken the dream of Richard St. Barbe Baker into their hearts and souls and moved forward on diverse branches and pathways for conservation locally and globally.

The largest afforestation area in Saskatoon was named after Richard St. Barbe Baker OBE, Hon. LL.D. F.I.A.L., For. Dip. Cantab., ACF (9 October 1889 – 9 June 1982). Baker was a silviculturist, conservationist, environmental activist and prolific author, who contributed greatly to worldwide forest protection, reforestation and desert reclamation efforts. Richard St. Barbe Baker was one of the first climate change activists in that he addressed the issues surrounding climate change before this reality was named and his life demonstrates how an individual can take extraordinary action for environmental education and protection. Baker was ahead of his time in many ways and he is an inspirational role model for our time.

The organization he started in 1922, now known as the International Tree Foundation, and other successful international organizations and activities started by individuals inspired by him (Eg: Plant-for-the-Planet and The Forest Trust) demonstrate this potential for inspired action. November 6, 2021 is the 5oth anniversary of Baker being awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). Baker has other connections to Saskatoon; he was one of the first 100 students at the U of S, initiated former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker there, planted a tree at the U of S on World Environment Day, 1982, died here 4 days later and is buried in Saskatoon’s Woodlawn Cemetery. His archives are installed at the U of S.

Our 2021 major event will focus on Baker’s legacy and a short film based on his extensive archival photo and film collection, interviews and footage shot by Christopher Chapman for a film on Baker. Saskatoon is so very fortunate that the Chapman’s archives are together with the Baker archives at the University of Saskatchewan archives and special collections.