Siksika Nation is prepping to face the climate crisis with the goal of increasing the shelterbelts in the region.
Climate change is no joke or a conspiracy theory. It is gradually getting as real as it can get. The different weather conditions we grew up learning about are now giving us a run for our money. We know it, we can see it and we feel it. Seeing the urgency, policymakers around the world are trying to do their part in reversing the damage. First Nation Siksika, in Alberta, Canada, has joined hands with Project Forest, a non-profit organization in Edmonton, to rewild parts of Alberta with the intent of fighting the life-threatening battle of climate change.
According to CBC, the Siksika Nation is set to welcome rows of new greenery around their properties. The executive director of Project Forest, Mike Toffan, shared that this project is the need of the hour for the Siksika Nation due to an evident lack of trees in the area. He shared, "When you leave Calgary and you drive towards Siksika, there's a lot of trees and then as soon as you get within the boundaries of the nation, there isn't much."
He also shared that the Siksika Nation is a valley that is vulnerable to extreme winds. So, another major reason for the requirement of shelterbelts is the assistance that they provide in barring strong winds that the valley is susceptible to and absorbing the moisture in the soil. Dale Springchief, special lands project coordinator for Siksika Nation land management, said, "We're kind of in a valley, so a lot of the trees that you see here are just mostly along the river bank."
The goal of this joint project between the Siksika Nation and Project Forest is to plant one million trees in the next five years. It will begin with this month's ceremony of planting 180 seedlings and take that up to 180,000 seedlings by spring next year. These efforts are to counter the climate change that is not only causing hotter summers and shorter winters but also affecting the water supply in the prairies as the lands get drier by the year.
Spring chief said, "It's the drier weather that we are seeing too in the summer and the spring. The earlier the melt-off, the less rain it's impacting our grounds. When we are reintroducing a lot of the traditional plants that used to be here, it's going to help that soil."
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Next spring should see 40 kilometers of shelterbelts planted in the region and in five years, that length is expected to go up to 450 kilometers. However, what poses a slight challenge for Project Forest is to ascertain which trees will effectively take root in the dry conditions of the prairies. So far, it has been decided that the shelterbelts will surely consist of edible and medicinal plants with the aim of furthering food security and delving into a deeper bond with those who use these trees for their cultural and ceremonial purposes. What remains to be seen is how effective these shelterbelts are in turning the climate change crisis a tad lower and giving hope that if we really work towards it, we can change things one shelterbelt at a time.