Ontario Celebrates Leadership on Greenbelts across the Globe

Media Release

Ontario Celebrates Leadership on Greenbelts across the Globe:

International Leaders Converge on Toronto, March 22-24, 2011

 Toronto, September 16, 2010 Policymakers and practitioners from four continents will converge in Toronto to address key environmental, farming, and social issues.  The Global Greenbelts Conference --- the first of its kind in the world --- mixes panel discussions, visits to Ontario’s Greenbelt, and local entertainment to highlight the potential of Greenbelts to help achieve food security, protect valuable ecosystems, and conserve biodiversity.

Greenbelts around the world have their unique characteristics, notes Burkhard Mausberg, President of Ontario’sGreenbelt Foundation.  “The ‘Iron Curtain’ Greenbelt once divided Germany but now unites it. The Metropolitan London Greenbelt taps into England’s strong rural heritage. And, Copenhagen’s iconic ‘Finger Plan’ --- with urban fingers and green wedges extending from the core of the city --- has guided its growth for almost 60 years.”

“Over 70 years of experience in London has shown that greenbelts become more valuable over time as a green lung for a global city,” says Peter Waine, Chair, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), a 60,000 member organization established in 1926.

Rodrigo Victor, head of the Forest Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil, welcomes the Conference as a “timely initiative to bring together successful experiences from around the world.” The Conference will hear speakers from nine countries, bringing a wealth of knowledge to Toronto, including:

  • · The Green Wedges, forming a broad arc around metropolitan Melbourne, that work in tandem with the urban growth boundary to ensure preservation of fertile farmland;
  • · The German ‘Iron Curtain’ Greenbelt which forms the backbone of an ecological network for nature conservation across trans-national boundaries;
  • · The Sao Paulo Greenbelt Biosphere Reserve with its world leading eco-training and entrepreneurship programs for disadvantaged youth;
  • · The Frankfurt Greenbelt that evolved from the early protected green spaces where the medieval city walls once stood, to the 1991 ‘Grun Gurtel’ wrapping around the city, to being part of a larger regional green system; and,
  • · The Mazovia Region around Warsaw, where work is underway to establish a greenbelt to protect unique environmental values, species habitat, and fertile farmland disappearing to suburban sprawl.

 Mausberg notes that, “Growing populations will only need more of the benefits that greenbelts can provide.  Changing global conditions, such as climate change, make them even more vital to society.”

Ontario’s Greenbelt is an example of a vibrant multi-use greenbelt that protects significant agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands from development.  It is underpinned by one of the strongest legal frameworks and impressive political commitment, providing diverse economic, environmental and social benefits to Ontarians.

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For more information contact: Susan Murray, Director of Communications, Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, (416) 960-0001, ext. 310 smurray-at-greenbelt.ca or visit http://www.globalgreenbeltsconference.ca/

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