Windbreaks provide excellent habitats for many wildlife species, especially when a fruit-producing shrub row is added.
Windbreaks & Living Snow Fences
Windbreaks and living snow fences are extremely important in eastern Colorado. Here, the wind blows often and hard with little deterrence across the relatively flat terrain. Strategically placed windbreaks greatly reduce wind speeds around specific areas, such as homesteads, roads, barns, feedlots, corrals and crop fields.
Windbreaks block blowing snow, reducing heating and cooling costs, buffer sounds and odors, provide cooler or warmer areas for livestock and reduce soil erosion. They also provide excellent habitat for many wildlife species, especially when a fruit-producing shrub row is added.
Agroforestry & Pollinators
Farms in the U.S. today are larger and have less nearby habitat to support bees than in the past. Yet the need for pollinators in agricultural landscapes has never been greater.
Globally, the acreage of insect pollinated crops has more than doubled in the past 50 years. At the same time, commercial beekeepers in the U.S. are losing an unsustainable percentage of their hives of honey bees each year because of a combination of habitat loss, diseases and pests, and pesticide exposure.
Native bee abundance and diversity is challenged as well. Almost 25 percent of bumble bees are facing dramatic population declines. Ongoing research demonstrates that these native bees play a vital role in crop pollination, and their numbers can be increased through agroforestry and other additions to our agricultural landscapes.
Threats to Agroforestry
Threats to these small forests include the very weather extremes from which many were designed to provide protection. High winds, heavy snows and extreme temperature shifts often damage the trees. Invasive pests such as the gypsy moth and emerald ash borer have the potential to impact these plantings just as they do in community forests. Wildfire often burns conservation plantings. Sustaining these forests requires constant vigilance, maintenance and renovation so that they will continue to provide the environmental services needed by plains dwellers.