The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has a number of ongoing research projects. If you have any questions or feedback we'd love to hear from you.
Greenhouse Gas Inventory Project
Greenbelt Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory Working Paper
We recently investigated if it would be possible to put together a greenhouse inventory for the Greenbelt. Our report is unique in that it considers land-use emissions from agricultural practices and natural systems alongside traditional emission sectors. While there were some high level estimates and gaps in our analysis, our best net emissions estimate for the Greenbelt is about 4.35 MtCO2e / year, or 2.5% of Ontario's total. In contrast, the Greenbelt's natural assets store 261 MtCO2e. This significant difference between what the Greenbelt stores and what is emitted emphasizes the critical need to protect carbon sinks, such as farmland and forests as they play an important role in combating climate change.
The full report is available here.
Evaluating the Potential of Greenbelt Soils to Mitigate Climate Change:
We are researching ways in which the Greenbelt can do even more for climate change mitigation and adaptation. As agriculture is the predominant land use in the Greenbelt and a significant source of GHG emissions, it is high on our list of priorities, and one of the key factors in agricultural emissions is soil management. Depending on how soil is managed, it can either be a source or sink for greenhouse gases.
We commissioned a report to help us understand the current situation in the Greenbelt, to see what changes are possible, and to estimate the impact those changes could have. The results are eye opening. It is estimated that changing soil management practices in the Greenbelt alone could take the equivalent of 16.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over the next 20 years. That is equivalent to approximately 2 years of GHG emissions from the entire farming sector in Ontario.
The full report is available is available here.
Community Action, Climate Change, and Soil Health in the Greenbelt:
Building soil carbon helps mitigate climate change by taking carbon out of the atmosphere in the form of organic matter, and sequestering it in the soil. Soils with higher levels of organic carbon are also more resilient to climate change.
Earlier this year we commissioned a feasibility study of a potential multi-year project designed to measure and build soil carbon through innovative management practices around the Town of Erin. The feasibility study allowed the project team to assess interest and willingness to participate among local farmers and community groups by holding workshops and through targeted outreach. These activities demonstrated strong local enthusiasm and potential for the full pilot to go ahead.
Under this project proposal, local community groups concerned about climate change will support farmers in their efforts and contribute to the measurement stage through a citizen science process.
The report summary is available here.
Natural Capital Projects
Role out of Valuing Natural Capital Report:
We are disseminating the results of our recent study, Ontario’s Good Fortune: Appreciating the Value of the Greenbelt’s Natural Assets, to various stakeholders via social media and targeted workshops. We are keen to hear from organizations that would like to apply the findings of the report in their own local context and are looking for future collaborations. You can also see the presentations from our recent workshop on the topic on our workshops page.
Natural Capital Lab:
We are participating in the Natural Capital Lab, a collaborative initiative to shape and align how we account for natural capital in Canada. Effective integration of natural capital valuations into decision making can significantly improve how natural systems are managed at all levels of government.
Green Infrastructure Project
Green infrastructure can contribute to economic development by generating construction and maintenance jobs as well as recreational and educational opportunities. It also offers a framework for downtown and streetscape revitalization, trail network expansions, and outdoor recreation, all of which can help attract businesses, services, and new residents. For small towns outgrowing their current conventional stormwater systems, green infrastructure can postpone or eliminate the need for infrastructure upgrades while increasing groundwater supply and quality, and improving local waterway conditions and aquatic species health.
Green Infrastructure Guide for Small Communities:
We are working with Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition on a Green Infrastructure Guide. The purpose of this Guide is to support small cities, towns and rural settlements with the integration of green infrastructure into their communities. Many communities in and around the Greenbelt and urbanized areas inevitably have an impact on the natural systems that surround them. Green infrastructure can help mitigate those impacts and build resiliency to climate change while providing many economic and social benefits.
For more information contact: Tom Bowers, email@example.com