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Field Shelterbelt Program

Farms near BeaverhillField shelterbelts are an important conservation management tool on many farms in Alberta. These bands of trees and shrubs are effective barriers to the wind, providing protection to the adjacent soil and crops. Shelterbelts can trap snow and increase the available moisture content of the nearby soil, improving adjacent crop yields. Other benefits include improved aesthetics and, if managed appropriately, wildlife habitat. 

Initiated under CASCI, the Alberta Field Shelterbelt Program made trees and shrubs available to farmers and non-profit groups free of charge for shelterbelt plantings. In addition, most municipalities have a shelterbelt program to complement tree orders from Alberta nurseries. Between 1989 and 1996, 4.5 million field shelterbelt trees were planted. This is equivalent to about 4,500 kilometres of single-row shelterbelts.

Shelterbelts and wooded areas have many environmental benefits ranging from soil conservation and water quality protection to biodiversity and wildlife habitat enhancement. Proper planning and sustainable management of these areas can improve environmental stewardship. As their awareness of sustainable management increases, landowners are becoming more selective in the management choices they make. Overall, shelterbelt and woodlot education is proving an effective way of minimizing the potential for environmental damage.

Department of the Environment. State of the Environment Report, Terrestrial Ecosystems. Edmonton: n.p., 2001. With permission from Alberta Environment.




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