Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest, protecting farmland, forests, wetlands, rivers, and lakes.

2 million acres of protected land work together to provide us with fresh air, clean water, fantastic local food and drink, and world-class outdoor recreation and tourism experiences.

Photo by Michael Manett

The Greenbelt is the heart of the Greater Golden Horseshoe - its permanent protection is essential for climate resilient communities and a thriving local economy.

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Greenbelt Area

Protected Countryside
Niagara Escarpment
Oak Ridges Moraine
Urban River Valley
Specialty Crop Areas

The Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is one of the fastest growing regions in North America.

Up to 13.5 million people will live here by 2041, making it more important than ever to protect the resources providing us with a great quality of life.

That’s why the Greenbelt was created in 2005 to:

  1. Prevent further loss of farmland and natural heritage
  2. Restrict urban sprawl
  3. Work with the Growth Plan to develop vibrant communities where people can live, work, and play
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$9.6 billion

economic impact every year

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full-time jobs

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2 million acres

of protected land

The Greenbelt’s natural systems support ecological and human health.

One of the most biologically rich areas in all of Canada, the Greenbelt includes the Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine — which filter and replenish groundwater, and feed into the many river systems that flow through Canada’s most developed region.

In 2017, the Greenbelt was expanded to include 21 Urban River Valleys and 7 coastal wetlands, connecting its suburban and rural lands to Lake Ontario.

The Greenbelt safeguards the vital resources that clean our air and water, reduces our flood risks, provides a home for wildlife, and ensures our communities have greenspace to explore.

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721,000 acres

of wetlands, grasslands, and forests protected

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$3.2 billion

in ecosystem services each year

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78 species

at risk protected

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The health of the Greenbelt affects the quality of drinking water for more than seven million Canadians.

Irreplaceable natural assets make the region more climate resilient.

The Greenbelt absorbs rainwater, manages storm water during severe weather events, and helps to prevent costly flooding. In times of drought, a healthy, connected system provides a buffer against diseases and other stresses.

In a warming climate, the tree cover and vegetation of the Greenbelt keeps ambient temperatures down. City dwellers can find relief from the cooling effect of the region’s river valleys.

The Greenbelt’s forests, wetlands, and soils slow the impact of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

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$224 million

per year in flood protection

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71 million tonnes

of carbon each year

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56.5 million car

equivalent of carbon offsets per year

Greenbelt agriculture drives the local economy.

With the highest quality soils, favourable climate conditions, and proximity to Canada’s largest market, Greenbelt farms and businesses deliver a staggering diversity of local food and drink.

Farmland makes up 40% of the protected Greenbelt, including rare specialty crop areas: the Holland Marsh and the Niagara Tender Fruit and Grape Area.

Local food, craft beer and cider, award-winning wines, farmers’ markets, agri-food and culinary tourism experiences help to keep rural economies thriving.

With farmland disappearing at an alarming rate in Southern Ontario - more than 450,000 acres of farmland has been lost since 1991 - a permanently protected Greenbelt is essential to sustain a reliable source of food close to home.

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750,000 acres

of highly productive farmland

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68% more revenue

earned by Greenbelt farms per acre than the average Ontario farm

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farms protected by the Greenbelt