shelterbelt n : hedge or fence of trees designed to lessen the force of the wind and reduce erosion [syn: windbreak]
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, reducing noise from the traffic and providing a safe barrier between farm animals and the road.
Major shelterbelt projects
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.
- 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.
Smaller scale shelterbelt projects have been proposed and implemented elsewhere, e.g. in India.