A “shelterbelt” is defined as a barrier of trees and shrubs. You may also hear shelterbelts referred to as “windbreaks”. They are usually planted to protect a particular area, such as a farm field or garden, from damage that’s caused by wind or erosion. Shelterbelts can be planted for a specific purpose with the type of tree/shrub species, number of trees/shrubs planted and the manner in which they are planted all depending on the end goal of what the shelterbelt is needed for. Shelterbelts are typically planted for one of four purposes – to protect a farmyard, to protect livestock, to serve as a dugout or to line the roadside. Farmyard shelterbelts are planted to provide protection of a yard from the elements and to deter rodents and thieves.
Livestock shelterbelts protect livestock and livestock facilities as well as providing adequate odour control. Roadside shelterbelts may be planted to line the roads and reduce the level of dust and debris that gathers on the roadside. Dugout shelterbelts can be used to trap significant amounts of snow. There are a number of specific benefits that planting shelterbelt trees and shrubs offer to both landowners and to the environment.
Benefits to the Soil
- Shelterbelt trees help to reduce soil erosion by protecting against wind and the elements and reducing the impact that severe weather has on the soil by providing much needed shelter.
- Shelterbelts can also provide protection to the shoreline by protecting against the impact of salt carried by the wind.
- Shelterbelts can be used to effectively manage wastewater. The trees essentially become storage vessels for the pollutants within wastewater that would otherwise end up polluting the nearest stream, river or lake.
- They can enable better water quality by extracting key nutrients from groundwater.
- Shelterbelts can also enable the draining of floodplains from water and streams, preventing over bank spilling.
- They can also be used to trap large quantities of snow and therefore help with the provision of water quantity and improve water availability required for soil and plants.
On farmyards, shelterbelts can help to absorb the drift of pesticide chemicals from polluting the air. As the chemicals approach the belt, some go around the end of the belt, some go through the belt and most go over the top of the belt, enabling the trees and shrubs to effectively reduce the level of pesticides in the air.
- Shelterbelts can also help to absorb odours arising from livestock in the farmyard. Odours generated by animals tend to form as particulates and trees and shrubs have the ability to impede the movement of these particulates.
- Shelterbelts have proved an effective refuge for wildlife, with the ability of the trees and plants to protect the soil, enable water conservation and protect against the elements serving to provide the ideal habitat for wildlife.
- Planting shelterbelt trees and shrubs around farms and properties can reduce energy bills. By reducing the force of the winter wind, shelterbelts can reduce heating bills and, as they provide shade from the sun in the summer time, a shelterbelt can reduce the need for air conditioning and cooling. Planting shelterbelt trees offer numerous environmental and economic benefits for farm and property owners as well as for local authorities. You’ll also enjoy the benefit of increased privacy and security for your property and they can serve to be aesthetically pleasing too. Who knew planting trees could offer such a wealth of benefits?