Forest belts

A forest belt is a field shelterbelt consisting of at least three rows of trees or shrubs. Forest belts serve the same purpose as field shelterbelts, but create a forest environment between the rows when the tree canopy closes.

Benefits

Forest belts help reduce soil erosion, trap snow, and increase crop yields better than regular shelterbelts, because they are denser and are less likely to have gaps in them.

Increase Biodiversity - Forest belts harbour insects, birds, wild flowers, mammals and mushrooms.

Reduce Carbon dioxide (CO2) - Forest belts use much more CO2 (the number 1 greenhouse gas) than regular shelterbelts.

Provide Direct Income - Forest belts give the farmer opportunity to harvest fruit products, pulp, lumber, maple syrup and much more.

Long Term Shelter - Forest belts are comprised of many species with varied lifespans. Dead trees can be removed and replaced without leaving gaps, so shelter is maintained.

Design

A typical forest belt is designed so that taller species are in the middle and shorter species are on the outside. For easy maintenance, demonstration forest belts are planted into plastic mulch and grass is sown between the rows.

Forest belt species

Forest belts are designed to include both fast-growing and long-lived species to ensure they provide shelter benefits for the longest possible time. Some species included in forest belts are:

What species are planted in a forest belt?

Species Use
Scots pine lumber, wildlife, crop shelter
White spruce lumber, wildlife, crop shelter
Colorado spruce lumber, wildlife, crop shelter
Siberian larch lumber, rails, posts
Green ash specialty wood, crop shelter
Manitoba Maple specialty wood, maple syrup, crop shelter, nesting
Siberian elm specialty wood, crop shelter, nesting
Hybrid poplar lumber, pulp
Bur oak specialty wood
Russian olive specialty wood, wildlife
Caragana specialty wood, crop shelter, wildlife
Choke Cherry specialty wood, fruit, wildlife
Buffaloberry fruit, wildlife
Sea-buckthorn fruit, wildlife
Mongolian cherry fruit, wildlife
High bush cranberry fruit, wildlife
Hazelnut fruit, wildlife
Rose fruit, wildlife
Saskatoon fruit, wildlife
Pin cherry fruit, wildlife
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