Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Managing natural assets: shelterbelts guide now available

Posted on 16 November, 2022 by Ivan

Native shelterbelts are great for providing stock with shelter and shade, and can also help mitigate erosion, control pests and support native wildlife. Connecting Country has long advocated for the use of native shelterbelts in our landscape, as they provide a variety of services for agriculture and the environment. We are excited to have access to a recently published guide by the Sustainable Farms program at the Australian National University (ANU) on planting and managing native shelterbelts. It is an excellent resource for farmers and other landholders. Please read on for details and the link to the guide.

Planting native shelterbelts on farms is a significant act of land stewardship, one that also delivers demonstrated productivity and biodiversity benefits.

Shelterbelts are generally linear strips of vegetation, intended to provide shelter, shade and wind breaks. Well-managed and diverse native shelterbelts can have productivity benefits for cropping and grazing enterprises while supporting hundreds of species of birds, mammals, invertebrates, frogs and reptiles.

This management guide details the science behind shelterbelts and outlines how to create effective shelterbelts on farms.

Shelterbelts  can be a strip of newly planted trees and shrubs, or can involve the restoration of existing remnant vegetation. Shelterbelts can also incorporate other landscape features such as paddock trees, farm dams, creeks and rocky outcrops. All forms of shelterbelts can significantly improve on-farm biodiversity and deliver productivity benefits to livestock, crops and pastures.

About 85% of the original woodland vegetation has been lost across southeast Australia, and in some regions just 3% remains, predominantly on farms. Planting shelterbelts is one way to help restore this native vegetation cover, and improve habitat connectivity for wildlife.

Australian research indicates that the total amount of native vegetation across a property or the broader landscape is more important than the size of individual patches or plantings. Even small shelterbelts can make a worthwhile contribution to biodiversity. Livestock and wool productivity gains, increases in crop and pasture production, more pollinators, and reductions in costly crop and pasture pests, such as red-legged earth mites, have all been associated with the introduction of shelterbelts on farms.

To download a copy of the ANU’s new guide to shelterbelts – click here

Managing natural assets: Shelterbelts

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