The role of shelterbelts within prairie agriculture is changing. In the past, shelterbelts have been promoted and adopted to reduce soil erosion and to protect farmsteads and livestock from harsh prairie climates. Production techniques used today have been changed from when shelterbelts were first introduced as a management practice to reduce erosion. Advances in production technology accompanied with increase in farm size and changes to policy have all contributed to a shift in how shelterbelts are considered within management plans. The objective of this research is to identify the private costs and benefits from adoption and retention of shelterbelts. In the summer of 2013, a survey was conducted of producers and land owners chiefly from Saskatchewan, Canada. It was found that many of the benefits of shelterbelts can be classified as noneconomic and, therefore, are more difficult for producers and land owners to recognize or include within their operations management decisions. Conversely, the costs to producers were easily identified and heavily influenced management decisions. As greenhouse gas management and policy become more of a focus, shelterbelts have the potential to play a major role in climate change mitigation by sequestering significant amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into the soil and as biomass carbon in above- and belowground parts of planted shelterbelt trees or shrubs. However, most producers do not recognize such benefits within their management decisions, as they are not currently compensated for the benefits that they provide to society.
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