Public and private benefits from Shelterbelt Centre activities
The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (AAFC–PFRA) Shelterbelt Centre was established at Indian Head in 1901 and since then has been a major source of tree seedlings to prairie farmers and to other eligible interested agencies. The Centre has distributed over 576 million tree seedlings. On farms, these shelterbelts have become an important resource, both to the producers as well as to the society as a whole. A survey of producers attending the Shelterbelt Centre Field Day in 2003, indicated that shelterbelts lived up to their expectations and that both society and producers derive benefits from them. They affect the producers and society in a variety of ways – some directly and others indirectly through ecosystem functions. Based on the study, this value to the society (other than land owners) of the shelterbelts established since 1981 could exceed $150 million, and can even be as high as $940 million. Major benefits accrue from carbon sequestration, wildlife habitats and related activities, and from energy conservation. These benefits, although apparent to most of us, are difficult to estimate precisely, and require better data and an interdisciplinary approach.
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