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Agroforestry: A Natural Carbon Management Tool . Presented to: Agriculture and Carbon Management Conference. by: Blair English P. Ag. Agroforestry Specialist AAFC - PFRA Brandon Research Centre Ph (204) 726-7587

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agroforestry a natural carbon management tool

Agroforestry: A Natural Carbon Management Tool

Presented to: Agriculture and Carbon Management Conference

by: Blair English P. Ag.

Agroforestry Specialist


Brandon Research Centre

Ph (204) 726-7587

Fax (204) 726-7619


aafc pfra s working definition of agroforestry
AAFC – PFRA’s Working Definition of Agroforestry:
  • “An approach to land use that incorporates trees into farming systems to accomplish environmental, economic and social goals, and allows for production of trees and crops from the same piece of land”

PFRA Shelterbelt Centre

  • Located at Indian Head, Saskatchewan.
  • Started producing shelterbelt material for prairie farmers in 1901.
  • Produces tree material that is hardy to the harshest of prairie conditions.
  • The Shelterbelt Centre ships 5 to 6 million trees about 8 to 10 thousand applicants per year in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta & Peace River District of B.C.

PFRA Shelterbelt Centre

  • As well as providing shelterbelt material, the Shelterbelt Centre conducts research, provides technical assistance and promotes the use of trees and shelterbelts throughout the prairie region.

Shelterbelt Benefits

  • When properly designed, there are three major ways green house gases can be mitigated by shelterbelts:
  • Snow control
  • Energy Savings in home heating
  • Carbon sequestration

Snow Control:

  • Shelterbelts can be designed to keep farmyards, driveways and roads clear of snow. Financial and greenhouse gas emission savings can be achieved as a result of reduced snow clearing activities.

Energy Savings by Shelterbelts:

  • Properly designed shelterbelts can reduce the heating costs of farm buildings by 30%. Depending on the source of energy used, greenhouse gas emission reductions as well as financial saving can be considerable.
carbon sequestration potential of shelterbelts
Carbon Sequestration Potential of Shelterbelts
  • Shelterbelts remove carbon dioxide and store it as carbon for long periods of time as wood.
  • Shelterbelt Centre began investigating the carbon potential of prairie shelterbelts in the early 1990’s.
  • PFRA determined the rate of carbon accumulation for 20 important prairie shelterbelt species.
  • We are now able to predict the carbon content of current and future shelterbelt programs.

Sequestration Potential

  • Two scenarios, current distribution vs. an expanded planting programs.
  • Carbon sink measured for 2008-2012, 2013-2017 verification periods and 2036-2040.
  • 1990 starting year.
  • Shelterbelt Centre distribution numbers used for years 1990 – 1999.


  • Trees were planted in shelterbelts at the recommended spacing between trees.
  • Seedling survival varied from 50% to 85%, depending on species.
  • Hectares are calculated using a five metre width for a single row shelterbelt.
  • Carbon is recorded in Mt CO2and represents above ground carbon only.

Scenario 1 - Current Distribution

  • Shelterbelt Centre distribution numbers used for 1990-1999.
  • Tree Distribution for 2000-2040 is assumed to be the same as for 1999 (5.3 million).

Scenario 2 - Double Current Distribution

  • Actual distribution numbers 1990-1999.
  • Five year ramp up period to full to new production level (10.6 million trees).
  • Expanded program has 15 year duration after which production returns to pre-2000 levels (5.3 million).

Shelterbelt Benefits

  • Shelterbelts are currently planted for the protection of soils, crops, buildings, livestock and for wildlife habitat. Carbon sequestration is one more benefit.
  • Do not require the conversion of large tracts of agricultural land, the land stays in production and the shelterbelts complement the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.

Shelterbelt Enhancement Program (SEP)

  • The Shelterbelt Enhancement Program is part of Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change.
  • Five year, $4 million program designed to increase shelterbelt planting in the prairie region.
  • Target is the sequestration of 0.3 MT CO2, 8,000 km of incremental shelterbelts.

Shelterbelt Enhancement Program (SEP)

  • Provides seedlings, technical assistance, plastic mulch and access to equipment to qualifying applicants in MB, SK, AB & BC Peace.
  • 2001-2002 was first year of program.
  • 228 approved applications (20 cancelled).

Shelterbelt Enhancement Program (SEP)

  • Total Planting Length
  • B.C./Alberta – 96.8 km
  • Saskatchewan – 263.9 km
  • Manitoba – 180.5 km
  • Total – 541.2 km


  • Prairie shelterbelts will sequester between 1.7 and 2.2 Mt CO2 in the first commitment period (2008-2012) depending on the size of the program, 2.4 to 4.4 Mt CO2 in the second commitment period.
  • There are many environmental and agronomic benefits to planting shelterbelts
  • Opportunities exist to expand shelterbelt programming across Canada through new partnerships