Placing Value On Shelterbelts

farmscenes shelterbelt2 dec282012Photo courtesy Stanley Soil Management Association

Researchers are looking at placing a value on shelterbelts in a southern Manitoba municipality.

The Stanley Soil Management Association has partnered with a graduate student at the University of Manitoba to assess the public's perceived value of the trees that border many fields in the RM of Stanley.

The rate at which shelterbelts have been established has dropped in recent years, while farmers are increasingly removing the trees.

"Part of the research looks at shelterbelts’ contribution to soil fertility. The other part of the research assesses the community’s socio-economic and environmental values for shelterbelts," explains grad student Louise Bellet.

A survey has been sent to 300 random RM citizens asking them for their perspectives. Richard Warketin of the Stanley Soil Management Association explains the responses could potentially be used by government and other agencies to develop policies regarding shelterbelts.

"There could be an opportunity to determine how the municipality, conservation district, or even Stanley Soil Management Association should look into establishing shelterbelts, maintaining shelterbelt or, awareness of the benefits of shelterbelts," he explains.

Warkentin notes the study is timely considering the federal government plans to end its prairie shelterbelt program by the end of 2013.

The research project is expected to be completed in September.

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