What is near-urban nature? And why must we protect it?
Near-urban nature is comprised of the forests, river valleys, wetlands, savannahs, and other ecological features that surround and intersect our communities. This nature is critical to the health and well-being of all life in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and is one of our greatest resources for adapting to climate change. While we often look to protect wilderness areas farther afield, southern Ontario is one of the most biodiverse regions in Canada—providing direct and irreplaceable eco-services to the country’s largest concentration of communities and people. This proximity puts near-urban nature at high risk of being degraded and lost, making increased conservation critical.
While we often look to protect wilderness areas farther afield, southern Ontario is one of the most biodiverse regions in Canada—providing direct and irreplaceable eco-services to the country’s largest concentration of communities and people."
Rising to Meet the Challenge
Protecting near-urban nature within the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) is a challenge given multiple jurisdictions, competing visions for the use of lands, and highly fragmented ownership.
Continued urban growth when met with the climate crisis will make more Canadians vulnerable to flooding, heat waves, droughts, and other stresses that affect everything from our infrastructure to our food production systems and local economies. Meeting this challenge begins with awareness of nature’s benefits. Indigenous histories and knowledge systems in preserving nature can inform strategies and advance management of the lands, water, and wildlife in the region.
Join us to share and discover effective actions we can take to conserve, protect, and manage regionally significant ecological systems and corridors in near urban landscapes, such as the Greenbelt and Greater Golden Horseshoe, and similar geographies in Canada. We are committed to engaging local Indigenous communities in accordance with community protocols and the development of ethical space for all to contribute meaningfully.
Canada’s federal and provincial governments support the protection of ecosystems, landscapes and biodiversity. The landmark Canada Nature Fund enables community action including efforts to protect 17% of lands and marine areas by 2020 and 25% by 2025. Urbanizing regions requires actions beyond traditional protection measures. A Near-Urban Nature Network Strategy will identify priorities, opportunities and how to address threats, communicate benefits and outline possible partners.
- Address threats to biodiversity in southern Ontario.
- Identify solutions to protect near urban nature at an increased rate.
- Help realize nature’s is full public contributions to community health, prosperity, and climate resilience.
- Respect Indigenous communities as land right’s holders and amplify Indigenous knowledge systems and leadership.
- Enable greater action by municipal governments and private landowners, including agricultural landowners.
- Promote voluntary innovative community action.
- Initiate a pan-Canadian conversation about protecting near urban biodiversity.
The Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC) is a group of experienced provincial, regional, and community-based conservation organizations, land-based policy experts, and Indigenous engagement specialists. With support from the Government of Canada, SONC is developing a strategy that supports a robust near-urban nature network for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. What we learn here and in similar geographies will be instrumental in informing work being done across the country, including the predominantly urban landscapes of southern Canada. Ultimately, our work today is critical to the resilience and prosperity of Canadian communities tomorrow.
The Coalition is committed to engaging Indigenous communities in accordance with community protocols and the development of ethical space for all to contribute meaningfully.