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1984: Richard St. Barbe Baker, Man of the Trees

Larger Version

The inaugural conference for the Richard St. Barbe Baker Foundation was held at the University of Saskatchewan on 4-5 June 1984.

Born in England, Baker arrived in Canada in 1909 and attended affiliated Emmanuel College. He was an early advocate of shelter belts to help check soil erosion, and having witnessed what he considered unnecessary waste of trees near Prince Albert, determined to become qualified for forestry work. He returned to England and, following service in the War, completed studies in forestry and silviculture at Cambridge.

In 1922 he was appointed assistant curator of forests in Kenya. There, in 1922, Baker founded the international Men of the Trees association and, enlisting the services of 9,000 voluntary tree planters, attempted to arrest the encroaching Sahara Desert.

Larger Version

Over the next several decades St. Barbe (as he was affectionately known) was called upon to advise on forestry matters in many nations: Palestine, New Zealand, and Africa among them. In India he established that country’s first tree-planting program; and in the USA, he presented a plan to F.D. Roosevelt for reclaiming the prairie ‘dust bowl’ and campaigned to save the California redwoods.

St. Barbe published more than 30 books, scores of articles on forestry and conservation, and toured extensively giving public lectures. It is estimated that his indefatigable efforts resulted in the planting of some 26 billion trees around the world.

The University awarded St. Barbe an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1971. Six years later Queen Elizabeth bestowed the Order of the British Empire upon him. St. Barbe Baker died in Saskatoon in 1982, while visiting friends at the University.

The Richard St. Barbe Baker Foundation exists as a service and support group for volunteer, non-governmental organizations involved in planting and caring for trees, as well as in forestry-related education.

Related Collections

Richard St. Barbe Baker fonds, MG 71.


1984a: Richard St. Barbe Baker. Baker fonds.
1984b: Himalayan pamphlet with article on saving trees. Baker fonds.

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