Greenbelt Foundation Supports Three Urgent Projects that Protect and Enhance Nature in Canada’s Most Developed Areas
Projects will further the recommendations of the Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC)
TORONTO, April 20, 2022—The Greenbelt Foundation has announced targeted investment for three projects that address key recommendations of the Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC), to protect biodiversity where it is most at risk and value near-urban nature’s ability to strengthen climate resilient communities.
This investment strategically supports projects that address recommendations from SONC’s Near-Urban Nature Network: A Solution to Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss - Final Report, published in July of last year."
This investment strategically supports projects that address recommendations from SONC’s Near-Urban Nature Network: A Solution to Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss - Final Report, published in July of last year. Projects include a native seed strategy from Carolinian Canada, the establishment of important connectivity lands around Rouge National Urban Park from Wildlands League, and a project from Ontario Nature that assesses municipal and conservation authority lands towards Canada’s 2025 Protected Areas Target. Planning is also underway to advance SONC’s 54 Million Trees recommendation from the 2021 report.
“All three projects work towards solutions that protect and enhance near-urban nature across the Greater Golden Horseshoe, one of two ecological hotspots in Canada,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO, Greenbelt Foundation. “It is essential that we continue to invest in work that supports landscape connectivity in the region, which is essential to enabling species movement across southern Ontario and provides other benefits such as climate mitigation and increased greenspace for residents.”
“Southern Ontario Seed Strategy” from Carolinian Canada, Coalition will draft a southern Ontario native plant seed strategy in coordination with Indigenous, conservation, agricultural and native plant nursery industry leaders to restore healthy, climate resilient landscapes in the Greenbelt and preserve biodiversity. The region will need increased seed supply and planting to address challenges of climate impacts and improve conditions for biodiversity loss and urban development. Native plants are a necessary solution to increasing the resilience of nature and our communities as climate change impacts intensify.
“Assessing Lands towards Canada’s 2025 Protected Areas Target,” Ontario Nature will partner with municipalities and conservation authorities to assess public lands and confirm their status to be counted towards federal biodiversity and climate targets. Ontario has fallen short of meeting the national target for protected areas and has currently protected less than 11 per cent of land. Environmentally significant municipal and conservation authority lands are vitally important to conservation in the Greater Golden Horseshoe but are under-reported towards the federal target.
“A Connected and Resilient Greenbelt,” Wildlands League will identify and advance lands important to ecological connectivity in Rouge National Urban Park’s greater ecosystem and adjacent Greenbelt lands. The project’s focus on connectivity supports a “cores and corridors” approach to protecting biodiversity in the region, which has some of the highest concentrations of biodiversity in the country, but due to proximity to urban areas, is also under the greatest threat.
The dual crises of climate change and rapidly accelerating biodiversity loss have spurred international action, including investments from the Government of Canada to conserve 25 per cent of Canada’s lands, freshwater, and oceans by 2025, working toward 30 per cent by 2030, and to stop and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. These commitments are important steps in the right direction and will help advance meaningful protection of Canada’s biodiversity, including in near-urban areas, which are critical to environmental sustainability and contain some of the highest levels of species diversity in the country.
Further to the projects above, SONC’s work on Indigenous Engagement will continue through further collaboration with CIPS (Cambium Indigenous Professional Services). The CIPS team will develop a matrix of Urban Indigenous Organizations, First Nations, and Indigenous Communities in the SONC Near-Urban Nature Network region. Additionally, the CIPS team, with SONC, will develop a statement on the inclusion of Indigenous harvesting rights within the Near-Urban Nature Network. This statement will support the inherent right to harvest on territorial land.
Since its formation in 2019, the Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC) continues to convene and further the goals of the Near-Urban Nature Network: A Solution to Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss final report.
To read a Backgrounder with further information, please click HERE.
“Growing healthy landscapes for climate resilience, biodiversity, and people across southern Ontario means we need to protect and grow more native plants. We recognize that Indigenous peoples have a fundamental connection with native plants and so building partnerships to develop a seed strategy for the region is an important aspect of the reconciliation process. We are grateful for this support from the Greenbelt Foundation to co-create a seed strategy that will help us work together to heal the land.”
-Michelle Kanter, Executive Director, Carolinian Canada
“The CIPS Team is proud to be a Southern Ontario Nature Coalition (SONC) partner. It is partnerships such as this where common goals, values and visions create spaces for differing perspectives, knowledges, and worldviews to come together. With this togetherness, we can share often scarce capacity and resources to create the on the ground movements and actions needed to protect and preserve that which sustains us All.”
-Kerry-Ann Charles-Norris, Environment Partnership Coordinator, CIPS
“We look forward to working with conservation partners in municipalities and conservation authorities to assess and celebrate their contributions to biodiversity conservation in near-urban areas. Their achievements deserve recognition and provide a practical model for others to follow.”
-Caroline Schultz, Executive Director at Ontario Nature.
“To halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, the Federal Government will need to invest in Southern Ontario where species loss is highest and protection is lowest. Expanding protected cores like Rouge National Urban Park and connecting them with ecological corridors is a key strategy. Doing this across the Greater Golden Horseshoe can be a template for the rest of Southern Canada.”
-Janet Sumner, Executive Director, Wildlands League
About Greenbelt Foundation:
Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural, and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.
SONC is a coalition of experienced provincial, regional, and community-based conservation organizations, land-based policy experts, and Indigenous consultants. SONC includes:
Cambium Indigenous Professional Services
Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System
Ontario Farmland Trust
Ontario Land Trust Alliance
Greenbelt Foundation Media Contact:
Petronilla Ndebele, Director of Strategic Communications
(416) 960-0001 Extension 306
Greenbelt Foundation Social Media:
Facebook: Ontario Greenbelt