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Aerial view of field windbreaks in North Dakota.

A windbreak or shelterbelt is a plantation usually made up of one or more rows of trees or shrubs planted in such a manner as to provide shelter from the wind and to protect soil from erosion. They are commonly planted around the edges of fields on farms. If designed properly, windbreaks around a home can reduce the cost of heating and cooling and save energy. Windbreaks are also planted to help keep snow from drifting onto roadways and even yards. Other benefits include providing habitat for wildlife and in some regions the trees are harvested for wood products.

A further use for a shelterbelt is to screen a farm from a main road or motorway. This improves the farm landscape by reducing the visual incursion of the motorway, mitigating noise from the traffic and providing a safe barrier between farm animals and the road.

Major shelterbelt projects

Forest strips planted on a limited scale started no earlier than the 19th century. Some of the early forest strips, such as the late-19th century Genko's Forest Belt in Russia's Ulyanovsk Oblast, have been declared nature reserves now.

Afforestation projects involving large-scale planting of shelterbelts have been more than once proposed by governments as a way to reduce soil erosion and improve microclimate in otherwise treeless agricultural areas.

"We will defeat the drought, too!". A late-1940s Soviet poster showing Joseph Stalin in his marshal's uniform over a map showing forest strips to be planted in the steppes of southern Russia.
  • USA: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Great Plains Shelterbelt" WPA project, which was launched in 1934 as an ambitious plan to modify weather and prevent soil erosion in the Great Plains states, and by 1942 resulted in the planting of 30,233 shelterbelts containing 220 million trees that stretched for 18,600 miles.[1]
  • China: The Green Wall of China, a project intended to plant 4,800 km of shelterbelts across Northern China by 2074.

Smaller scale shelterbelt projects have been proposed and implemented elsewhere, e.g. in India.[6]

See also

An East German windbreak promotion poster, 1952


  1. ^ R. Douglas Hurt. "Forestry on the Great Plains, 1902-1942." Accessed 2009-05-25.
  2. ^ "Circling the Globe with Trees". Agriculture and Ari-Food Canada. March 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-03.  
  3. ^ Wark, Wayne (2006). "Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration". The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Great Plains Research Centre. Retrieved 2009-09-03.  
  4. ^ Cherry, Evelyn (1943). "Windbreaks on the Prairies". Documentary film. National Film Board of Canada. Retrieved 26 November 2009.  
  5. ^ "Russia and the Soviet Union", in Shepard Krech, John Robert McNeill, Carolyn Merchant, Encyclopedia of World Environmental History. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0415937337. p. 1077
  6. ^ Anti-tsunami measures in Tamil Nadu create storm


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