‘Men Of The Trees’ Turns 100! QLD Chapter in The Gap Joins Worldwide Celebration

Men of the Trees, an organisation dedicated to fostering the planting, maintenance, and protection of trees worldwide turns 100 this year! Its Queensland chapter, based in The Gap, joins the worldwide organisation in celebrating its founding anniversary.

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On 22 July 1922, the organisation was founded by the late Dr Richard St Barbe Baker, an English government forestry officer, who was concerned for the rapidly decreasing fertility of the land when he started working in Kenya. 

Photo credit: themanofthetrees.com 

He saw the effects of centuries of land mismanagement in North Africa, from wheat farming in the later days of the Roman Empire to the  grazing of goats first introduced by Arabs. 

Dr St Barbe Baker believed it was necessary to plant more trees to combat the shifting methods of agriculture.

Photo credit: themanofthetrees.com 

That’s when he came up with the idea of voluntary tree planting by the native tribesmen of the highlands. The activity was most successful and the highlanders became known as forest planters instead of forest destroyers.

The highlanders, also known as the Kikuyu tribe, carried out managed reforestation in the region, and utilised native species in their land. 

When he went back from Kenya to England, this concept quickly spread in his home country by 1924 and since then, branches have developed in many parts of the world, bringing together men, women and children who were conscious about planting trees.

Dr Richard St. Barbe Baker with Ngairetta Brennan,  MOTT’s president for the first 19 years, photo taken in Brisbane in early ‘80s (Photo credit: Men of The Trees Queensland/Facebook)

In time for their centennial celebration, Cr Steven Toomey, who is currently the president of Men of The Trees Queensland, thanked all members past, present and an army of volunteers who have been preserving and restoring tree canopy across the globe.

Photo credit: Men of The Trees Queensland/Facebook

Today, the Men of the Trees is also known as the International Tree Foundation (ITF) and operates in several countries, with over 100 chapters worldwide. In Australia, it still goes by its original name though in England, the original charity has now been fully rebranded as ITF.