What is Green Infrastructure?

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From a landscape perspective, green infrastructure is an effective tool for mitigating the negative impacts development has on the natural heritage and agricultural systems of the Greenbelt. A prime example is helping to clean and cool water before it enters the river systems, which is important for rivers as a habitat and as a resource.

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Nature Does It Best: Looking to Green Infrastructure to Improve Our Communities

Tree Canopy Expansion

Green infrastructure can help mitigate the negative impacts of development, build resiliency to climate change, and help reduce infrastructure costs.

The Greenbelt itself can be thought of as a regional scale green infrastructure. The Greenbelt includes over 290,000 hectares of protected natural features, such as wetlands, hedgerows, and forests. These protected spaces provide a multitude of services to our communities, ranging from reducing the risk of floods, reducing health care costs, to storing carbon.

To get a better understanding about the multitude of benefits that green infrastructure provides; we sat down with Tom Bowers, the Foundation’s Research Manager. This is the second blog post in a series that explores the multitude of benefits that green infrastructure provides to our communities.

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April Newsletter 2018

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Green Infrastructure in Hamilton

Fletcher Creek

The watersheds around Spencer Creek, Christie Lake, Valens Lake and other creeks and lakes, connect the communities in Hamilton and are part of the Greenbelt. Studies show that the natural features and functions of these watersheds are under stress. 

One major stressor is the impact of impervious surfaces, such as roofs and roads, diverting rainfall from natural water filtration process to pipes and sewers or directly into waterways. This runoff leads to erosion, flooding and water pollution.

Our watersheds need to be healthier and more resilient to the changing climate, which is bringing more frequent and severe floods and droughts. Green Infrastructure is one of the approaches to address these problems, and has the potential to improve water quality, reduce the risk of floods, and ensure our watersheds are more resilient.

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Interested in what Green Infrastructure could look like in our yards, downtowns, roads and parks? There's a lot of options, ranging from the super simple to downright innovative.

Nature does it best. And because Green Infrastructure incorporates natural systems and functions within the built environment, it is gaining momentum as an efficient and cost-effective tool for mitigating the negative impacts development has on water management, natural heritage and agricultural systems in our communities and the Greenbelt.

Explore the options below:  

Green Infrastructure has the potential to improve water quality, reduce infrastructure costs, reduce the risk of floods, and ensure our watersheds and communities are more resilient to climate change.


Want to learn more?

 

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Re-visioning of a residential yard with Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure incorporates natural systems and functions within the built environment, it is gaining momentum as an efficient and cost-effective tool for mitigating the negative impacts development has on water management, natural heritage and agricultural systems in our communities and the Greenbelt.

Installing Green Infrastructure in our yards can have the following benefits:

  • Additional vegetation and natural features for homes and the public realm have been shown to increase property values, while also improving air quality and creating habitat for wildlife, including pollinators
  • Rain gardens and bioswales can help recharge groundwater supply, manage stormwater, and improve local water quality
  • Green roofs and green walls can insulate a home, reducing heating costs, and shade from planting trees can lower air temperatures, reducing cooling costs
  • Cisterns and rain barrels can be used to harvest rainwater and provide an additional water source for gardening and car washing
  • Permeable paving for driveways and sidewalks increases water infiltration into the ground
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Re-visioning of downtowns with Green Infrastructure:

Green Infrastructure incorporates natural systems and functions within the built environment, it is gaining momentum as an efficient and cost-effective tool for mitigating the negative impacts development has on water management, natural heritage and agricultural systems in our communities and the Greenbelt.

Installing Green Infrastructure in our downtowns can have the following benefits:

  • Revitalization and placemaking in the downtown core can attract new businesses and visitors
  • Integrated green infrastructure features in a community’s downtown can improve public health
  • Different types of green infrastructure such as trees provide protection from sun and wind exposure, as well as produce oxygen and store carbon
  • Replacing asphalt parking strips with permeable pavement and adding street trees help to define and improve the pedestrian realm
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Re-visioning of parks with Green Infrastructure:

Green Infrastructure incorporates natural systems and functions within the built environment, it is gaining momentum as an efficient and cost-effective tool for mitigating the negative impacts development has on water management, natural heritage and agricultural systems in our communities and the Greenbelt.

Installing Green Infrastructure in our parks can have the following benefits:

  • Public lands and parks are vital community assets that provide many important services, but additional features can enhance their functionality
  • Natural and engineered features in parks, including trees, constructed wetlands and renaturalized areas, increase wildlife habitat and opportunities for outdoor activity and education
  • Parks can also increase connectivity between other natural heritage features, improving overall ecosystem health and contributing to climate change mitigation by increasing the tree canopy and natural cover
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Re-Visioning of our Roads with Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure incorporates natural systems and functions within the built environment, it is gaining momentum as an efficient and cost-effective tool for mitigating the negative impacts development has on water management, natural heritage and agricultural systems in our communities and the Greenbelt.

Installing Green Infrastructure on our roads can have the following benefits:

  • Using vegetation and natural features in transportation right-of-ways increases the aesthetic value of streets and roadways. This helps improve human health and increases the rates of active transportation
  • It also builds habitat corridors for native and migratory species. In rural settings, it can provide much needed support for pollinators and the vital role they play for farmers
  • Rain gardens and bioswales will help filter pollutants in the air and water, improve local stream and river health, manage stormwater quality and quantity, and recharge the groundwater table
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Why Soil Health Is Important

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       thomas_bowers.png Thomas Bowers, Research Manager at Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, shares why he thinks soil health is an important issue in today's battle against climate change and crucial in the support of a healthy agricultural system.

Soil health is one of the most interesting and highest priority topics I work on. It affects all the issues the Foundation is concerned with: agricultural viability, healthy communities, environmental sustainability and climate change. It is also one of the most pressing issues facing the Greenbelt, Ontario, Canada and the world.

The Greenbelt Foundation is investing in a number of projects to improve soil health in the Greenbelt and mitigate climate change.

“Despite all our achievements we owe our existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains” - Farm Equipment Association of Minnesota and South Dakota

 

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