Biodiversity in Ontario's Greenbelt

Mar 11, 2021   •   Natural Systems , Biodiversity

Diversity defines the Greenbelt--from its wide range of habitats and landscapes to the incredible differences among the life forms within them. Biodiversity in Ontario’s Greenbelt, produced by the David Suzuki Foundation and Ontario Nature, showcases the significance of the Greenbelt for the diversity of life in Ontario and emphasizes the importance of systems-based planning. 

The creation of the Greenbelt has increased public recognition of the importance of protecting biodiversity."

It highlights the Greenbelt's valuable species and ecosystems, across its three significant natural environments: the Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, and the Carolinian life zone.

Here are some highlights:

- Forests are the most significant ecosystem, covering roughly 24% of the Greenbelt at approximately 182,594 hectares.
- Wetlands make up approximately 12% of the land base at approximately 96,014 hectares.
- Only 441 hectares, or less than 1% of the land-base, is covered by grasslands, one of the most endangered ecosystems in Canada.
- There are 78 species at risk, including 25 plants, 25 birds, 12 reptiles, 6 fish, 5 mammals, 2 butterflies, 2 amphibians, and 1 dragonfly.

The creation of the Greenbelt has increased public recognition of the importance of protecting biodiversity. The coupling of stronger policy and heightened awareness of species at risk and their habitat is a hopeful sign for biodiversity. It is critical that the Greenbelt's principles of connecting and protecting natural areas be used to drive system-based planning and to help inform decision-making, so that biodiversity is protected on public and private lands alike. However, the Greenbelt continues to face pressures. If Ontarians understand and acknowledge the many benefits of protecting habitat for plants, animals and other life forms, the Greenbelt can fulfill its promise and become a model of ecological and economic innovation for communities across Canada and the rest of the world.

Read the full report here: