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The Stanley Soil Management Association (SSMA) has been working with the Pembina Valley Conservation District (PVCD) to promote shelterbelts.

At the SSMA's annual meeting this past Wednesday, the two organizations gave reports on their initiatives in the community, presentations on renovating shelterbelts instead of removing them, and how shelterbelts can mitigate the effects of climate change.

The not-for-profit organization's mandate is sustainable agriculture; a technician with SSMA Richard Warkentin, says there was a push 30 years ago to plant shelterbelts, but the understanding of why they're beneficial seems to have diminished.

"Because of the value of land,  and other factors, people are feeling shelterbelts are taking away from them. We want to promote the whole concept that shelterbelts aren't taking away from productive croplands, they're helping out. The thing is once they're taken out, then they're gone."

Warkentin notes, not only do shelterbelts help protect topsoil, it sequesters carbon from the air, aiding in small part to the mitigation of climate change.

Currently, a popular tree in shelterbelts throughout the region is green ash, which is where the renovations come in says Warkentin.

"Ash has been the species of choice, and the ash borer has been found in Manitoba, so we're looking at diversifying. The point is to not jump on another bandwagon; first, it was elm now it was ash. We're looking at diversification, and that's the challenge, to determine which species."

He adds one of the potential options is to have several species within a single shelterbelt, reducing the risk of disease or parasites damaging the trees.

Shelterbelts aren't the only project the SSMA is working on. Warkentin says a significant contributor to their time is closing abandoned wells; however, he notes they will be continuing to push for shelterbelts because they believe they are essential.

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