Current Research and Reports

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. 

Call for Proposals

Review of Implementation of the Water Resource System in the Greenbelt

The provincial Greenbelt Plan contains policies relating to the sustainable management of the Water Resource System (WRS), including ground and surface water features. More specifically, the Plan applies to areas that contain primary recharge, headwater and discharge areas, together with major drinking water aquifers. It requires municipalities to take a comprehensive, integrated, and long-term approach to the protection, restoration and enhancement of the quality and quantity of water, and emphasizes the importance of watershed planning to do that.

The Greenbelt Foundation is interested to understand how municipalities, with their partner organizations, notably Conservation Authorities, are implementing these policies across the Greenbelt geography (including areas covered by the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan).

Download the full RFP here. The deadline for proposals is October 8th, 2019. 

Tourism Strategy for the Greenbelt

The unique character of the Greenbelt’s agricultural and natural landscapes --- along with the stability provided by its protection --- supports $9.1 billion in annual economic activity and 161,000 jobs in the regional economies, forming the bedrock of rural communities across the region. Iconic landscapes from family farms, including in the Niagara Peninsula Tender Fruit and Holland Marsh specialty crop areas, together with the dramatic Niagara Escarpment and the rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine provide a richness of agri-tourism and outdoor recreation activities that align well with current trends in tourism.

The objective of this project is to produce a credible and compelling tourism strategy for the Greenbelt, focused on the Greenbelt’s strengths and advantages in a competitive tourism market. A Greenbelt Tourism Strategy would leverage these distinct advantages and geographic location, as well as the local leadership and capacity of partners, to enhance outdoor recreation and agri-tourism in the Greenbelt. It will be used by the Foundation and a broad cross section of stakeholders including industry-led Regional Tourism Organizations, tourism operators, and municipalities to increase the success of outdoor recreation/adventure tourism and agri-tourism across the landscape, increasing tourism numbers, overnight stays, and spending.

The strategy will provide direction on how to market the Greenbelt and its many offerings as a destination, with specific recommendations on how to enhance attractiveness of, and/or add to, existing Greenbelt recreation and agri-tourism products as well as products developed by tourism operators and destinations, and stimulate interest in those products.

Download the full RFP here. The deadline for proposals is October 11th, 2019.

Recent Reports

Agriculture Trends and Updates: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages

Home to 750,000 acres of some of the most productive agricultural land in Canada, the Greenbelt supports a thriving agricultural and agri-food sector. Because of high quality soils and a favourable climate, the Greenbelt produces a significant amount of produce in close proximity to Canada’s largest markets in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

This report profiles the changes in agriculture in the Greenbelt from 2011 to 2016 compared to the rest of Ontario. A key finding is that nearly 11% of Ontario’s vegetable acreage and 53% of Ontario’s fruit acreage is in the Greenbelt, including more than 80% of Ontario’s acreage in peaches, plums, prunes, apricots, and grapes.

Agricultural Advisory Committees: Recognizing the Value of Agriculture in the Golden Horseshoe

The decisions of local and regional Councils have direct and immediate impacts on the short and long-term viability of agriculture. Agricultural Advisory Committees (AAC) have been established by Councils across the Golden Horseshoe throughout the years to help give the agricultural sector a stronger voice in the decisions that would affect them. AACs have a mandate to identify agricultural issues and opportunities to enhance the sector by providing an agricultural lens to municipal policies, plans, and processes.

Produced in collaboration with the Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance, this report examines the structure, challenges, and successes of AACs in the Golden Horseshoe. It highlights a number of lessons learned from AACs in the Golden Horseshoe that will be useful for existing AACs, as well as municipalities interested in establishing an AAC.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture hosted a webinar on this research, which you can view here.

Greenbelt Farmers: Sustaining Soil Health

Healthy soil is the heart of Ontario farms and our food system. Healthy soil contributes to multiple economic and environmental benefits including improved crop growth, water and nutrient retention, resilience, biodiversity, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. Yet Ontario’s agricultural soils face challenges to their health and conservation because soil organic matter is decreasing in many areas, there is too much bare soil in winter, and soil is increasingly at risk of erosion. It is also concerning that tillage is increasing, crop rotations are becoming less diverse, and there is an ongoing shift away from perennial forages to annual crops.

This report tells the stories of 14 farmers in the Greenbelt who are using a variety of practices to improve their soil health and the economic and environmental reasons behind their choices.

Research in Progress

Costs and Benefits of Water Adaptation Measures in the Greenbelt

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is working in partnership with the University of Waterloo and Green Analytics to develop an innovative, agent-based model approach to examine regional water use dynamics in the Greenbelt. This will help the region to understand water use trade-offs during periods of water shortages in the region, looking decades into the future as drought conditions are more likely due to climate change.

As farmland makes up half of the Greenbelt, the project focuses on the role agricultural adaptation practices, like soil management, irrigation, and water storage, can play in mitigating the impacts of water shortages. We will be inviting stakeholders to a Fall workshop to learn about the model and help test it.

Examining the Role of Green Infrastructure and the Greenbelt’s Urban River Valleys in Building Resilience to Climate Change and the Impacts of Extreme Heat

The Greenbelt is 2 million acres of protected farmland and natural systems in the Greater Golden Horseshoe area, including multiple river valleys in cities along Lake Ontario. These natural connectors link the Lake to the Greenbelt. Four million people live within 2 km of 21 urban river valleys (URVs) URVs and benefit from the many ecological goods and services they provide.

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is working with Ryerson University to examine how the URVs help build resiliency to the impacts of climate change by examining their role during extreme heat events. The results of this work will be useful for municipal and community climate adaptation / resiliency planning across the region, and provide specific recommendations for two case study communities.


Current Collaborations

EcoHealth Ontario

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation is a member and proud supporter of EcoHealth Ontario. EcoHealth Ontario (EHO) is a collaboration among public health practitioners, planners, conservation authorities, academics, and many more, committed to sharing information, developing the science and facilitating the discussion on the important connections between the environment and our own well being. You can find out more about EHO by visiting their website.

The Foundation is currently working with EHO on a project to increase our understanding of the relationships between environment and health. The results will help decision makers understand the health-related increased costs associated with losing greenspace, as well as reduced costs associated with greenspace enhancements.


Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance

The Golden Horseshoe Food and Farming Alliance (GHFFA) is a partnership between the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation and the regional municipalities and Federations of Agriculture in Niagara, Peel, Halton, York, and Durham, and the cities of Hamilton and Toronto. The GHFFA has a mandate to support growth in the food and farming cluster in the Golden Horseshoe, one of the largest food and farming clusters in North America. You can find out more about the GHFFA by visiting their website.

The Foundation is supporting the GHFFA to undertake a value chain analysis for Ontario carrots in order to better understand the sector and identify gaps and opportunities for growth. The project will also produce a template that can then be used for other value chain analyses.

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