The Englishman Richard St. Barbe Baker (1889-1982) was an inspirational visionary and pioneering environmentalist who is credited with saving and planting billions of trees. He saved lives, too, through his ceaseless global campaign to raise the alarm about deforestation and desertification and by finding effective, culturally sensitive ways for people to contribute to a more peaceful and greener world. He was also an Edwardian eccentric whose obsession with trees caused him to neglect his family; the devout son of an evangelical preacher who became a New Age hero; an unapologetic colonial officer fired for defending indigenous Africans; a forester who rarely had a steady income; a failed entrepreneur and inventor; a proud soldier and peace activist; a brilliant writer, speaker, and raconteur who made wild claims about the effectiveness of his conservation efforts. His encounters with historical figures like FDR, Nehru, and George Bernard Shaw are eye-popping, as were his accomplishments.
"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."
– Jane Goodall
"My friend and mentor Richard St. Barbe Baker was a genius at figuring out how to seamlessly integrate tree planting into the cultural DNA of millions of people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. This book is part biography and part handbook for engaging a new generation in conserving and restoring the world's forests."
– Hugh Locke, President, Smallholder Farmers Alliance – Haiti
"St. Barbe Baker was among the first foresters to identify and celebrate the hidden life of trees. He described the forest as a 'society of living things, the greatest of which is the tree.' Proof of his keen observation of forest sociability is accumulating. We need more foresters who, like Baker, nurture a deep sensitivity and love for trees. This biography will inspire a new generation of tree lovers and forest protectors."
– Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees