Shelterbelts are an important part of the Canadian landscape in many parts of the country, yet few of us pause to notice them. These treelines that frame our farmfields, help to prevent soil erotion by blocking strong winds and helping to anchor the soil. They also add an asetheticly pleasing element to what in many cases can be a uniform landscape. Now, thanks to government reductions, shelterbelts are under threat in Saskatchewan.
PhD history student Andrew Dunlop recently sat down for an interview with CBC radio about the role of shelterbelts in Saskatchewan's agricultural landscape. Dunlop notes that we often forget many of the trees we find on the farms of Saskatchewan were put there by humans. Historically, in the 20th century, the government has responded to drought conditions in Saskatchewan by offering to fund drought-resistance techniques, one of which involves the planting of trees. The need for leaner budgets has seen increased pressure on government subsidies for the practice, with Indian Head's shelterbelt centre scheduled to close in 2013 after more than a century of producing trees for Saskatchewan farms. However, Dunlop is optimistic that the asethetic value of the shelterbelt and the trees that comprise it will ensure farmers continue to plant the trees as older ones die out.
More on this story, as well as a 10 minute CBC interview with Dunlop, is available on the CBC News website.