Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

June 06, 2008 15:52 ET

MP Andrew Scheer Plants 600 Millionth Tree on the Prairies

INDIAN HEAD, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - June 6, 2008) - The Government of Canada is planting the Shelterbelt program's 600 millionth tree; giving Canadian farmers the tools they need to protect our environment and our food sources. Andrew Scheer, Member of Parliament for Regina-Qu'Appelle, planted the tree on behalf of the Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, today in Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

"Canadian farmers are proud stewards of the land and this Government is building on a 107-year tradition to help them protect that land," said Mr. Scheer. "The symbolic planting of the 600 millionth tree during Environment Week speaks to this Government's commitment to protect our environment and keep our family farms sustainable."

The first Shelterbelt trees were distributed to Prairie settlers 107 years ago and they play just as important a role today. Since 1901, the AAFC-PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) Shelterbelt Centre has been developing and distributing genetically superior trees and shrubs to farmers for planting on agriculture land.

The trees are distributed to farmers under the PFRA Prairie Shelterbelt Program for more than just soil and farmstead protection. Today they are being bred to adapt to climate change, to accommodate a growing interest in biodiversity and the environment, to help meet industry demand for bioproducts and biofuels, and to help fulfill an increased demand in tree-related products such as nutraceuticals, wood materials and fibre.

For more information on AAFC's Shelterbelt Centre, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/shelterbelt.

Every year, Canadian Environment Week takes place the first week of June to coincide with World Environment Day. This year, Environment Week is June 1-7 and World Environment Day is June 5. For more information on this year's theme and activities, visit the Environment Canada website at www.ec.gc.ca.

Backgrounder on the Prairie Shelterbelt Program and the Shelterbelt Centre attached.


BACKGROUNDER

AAFC Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration Prairie Shelterbelt Program

The Prairie Shelterbelt Program (PSP) began in 1901 as a way of developing and distributing to farmers trees that were hardy and could live and thrive in the harsh Prairie climate.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's 107-year-old Prairie Shelterbelt Program offers tree and shrub seedlings to rural landowners in the prairies of western Canada. The aim is to encourage adoption of tree planting and management practices that will benefit the agricultural sector and the environment. The service is administered by the PFRA and based at the Shelterbelt Centre in Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

This spring over 4 million seedlings were being shipped to more than 8,000 clients across the Prairies.

Since 1901, the Prairie Shelterbelt Program has produced and distributed over 600 million trees for farmers. The trees are bred to adapt to climate change, to accommodate a growing interest in biodiversity and the environment, to help meet industry demand for bioproducts and biofuels, and to help fulfill an increased demand in tree-related products such as nutraceuticals, wood materials and fibre.

Some tree species distributed to farmers through the Program include Scots pine, Colorado spruce, white spruce, caragana, willow, hybrid poplar, green ash, bur oak, villosa lilac, choke cherry, silver buffaloberry and sea buckthorn.

The Prairie Shelterbelt Program is one of the longest running federal programs in Canada.

Since 1901, the AAFC-PFRA (Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration) Shelterbelt Centre has:

- Produced and distributed 600,000,000 tree seedlings to farmers across Western Canada (MB, SK, AB and Northern BC). This is enough trees, at 1.8 m spacings, to encircle the planet 27 times.

- Serviced 700,000 farm clients.

- Produced and distributed enough seedlings to sequester over 218 mega tonnes of CO2. This is the equivalent of removing one year of emissions from 1,308,000 SUVs.

Fast Facts

- A five-row shelterbelt around a farmyard will reduce the energy needed to heat the home by 25 per cent.

- The shelter provided by a row of trees extends across the landscape for up to 20 times the height of the shelterbelt.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    613-759-7972
    1-866-345-7972
    or
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz
    Margaux Stastny
    Press Secretary
    613-759-1059