Shelterbelts have been planted around the world for many reasons. Recently, due to increasing awareness of climate change risks, shelterbelt agroforestry systems have received special attention because of the environmental services they provide, including their greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential. This paper aims to discuss shelterbelt history in Canada, and the environmental benefits they provide, focusing on carbon sequestration potential, above- and below-ground. Shelterbelt establishment in Canada dates back to more than a century ago, when their main use was protecting the soil, farm infrastructure and livestock from the elements. As minimal-and no-till systems have become more prevalent among agricultural producers, soil has been less exposed and less vulnerable to wind erosion, so the practice of planting and maintaining shelterbelts has declined in recent decades. In addition, as farm equipment has grown in size to meet the demands of larger landowners, shelterbelts are being removed to increase efficiency and machine maneuverability in the field. This trend of shelterbelt removal prevents shelterbelt’s climate change mitigation potential to be fully achieved. For example, in the last century, shelterbelts have sequestered 4.85 Tg C in Saskatchewan. To increase our understanding of carbon sequestration by shelterbelts, in 2013, the Government of Canada launched the Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP). In five years, 27 million dollars were spent supporting technologies and practices to mitigate GHG release on agricultural land, including understanding shelterbelt carbon sequestration and to encourage planting on farms. All these topics are further explained in this paper as an attempt to inform and promote shelterbelts as a climate change mitigation tool on agricultural lands.
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