Soil health is essential for ensuring the long-term viability of farming and sustainability of the environment. A new report from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation tells the stories of 14 farmers in the Greenbelt who are using a variety of practices to improve their soil health. Farming different crops in different regions across the Greenbelt, these farmers are taking leadership in protecting and conserving the rich diversity of soils in the Greenbelt that are critical to our food system.
New Report! Agricultural Advisory Committees: Recognizing the Value of Agriculture in the Golden Horseshoe
Local Agricultural Advisory Committees (AACs) provide 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 across the region. It highlights a number of lessons learned from AACs in the Golden Horseshoe that may be useful for existing AACs, as well as municipalities interested in establishing an AAC.
Building on an earlier study, a new report from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, Agriculture Trends and Updates: Understanding the Greenbelt’s Unique Advantages, profiles the changes in agriculture in the Greenbelt from 2011 to 2016, compared to the rest of Ontario. Using Statistics Canada’s Census of Agriculture data, the report looks at key variables such as number of farms, area farmed, use of farmland, production levels, and farm revenue.
Building soil carbon helps mitigate climate change by taking carbon out of the atmosphere in the form of organic matter, and sequestering it in the soil. Soils with higher levels of organic carbon are also more resilient to climate change.
Earlier this year we commissioned a feasibility study of a potential multi-year project designed to measure and build soil carbon through innovative management practices around the Town of Erin. The feasibility study allowed the project team to assess interest and willingness to participate among local farmers and community groups by holding workshops and through targeted outreach. These activities demonstrated strong local enthusiasm and potential for the full pilot to go ahead.
Under this project proposal, local community groups concerned about climate change will support farmers in their efforts and contribute to the measurement stage through a citizen science process.
We recently investigated if it would be possible to put together a greenhouse inventory for the Greenbelt. Our report is unique in that it considers land-use emissions from agricultural practices and natural systems alongside traditional emission sectors. While there were some high level estimates and gaps in our analysis, our best net emissions estimate for the Greenbelt is about 4.35 MtCO2e / year, or 2.5% of Ontario's total. In contrast, the Greenbelt's natural assets store 261 MtCO2e. This significant difference between what the Greenbelt stores and what is emitted emphasizes the critical need to protect carbon sinks, such as farmland and forests as they play an important role in combating climate change.
The Guide can support small cities, towns and rural settlements with the integration of green infrastructure into their communities. Much of the current green infrastructure research and guidance focuses on densely populated urban centres. Smaller and rural settlements are often overlooked despite the many benefits that green infrastructure can provide in these settings.
This Guide aims to fill that gap by providing an overview of the types of green infrastructure that make the most sense for these communities and by outlining a strategic zoning approach for implementation.
The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) recently conducted a consultation on a ‘Draft Protocol for Loss of Ecosystem Services’. The protocol sets out a framework for how to evaluate the ecosystem services lost because of development in natural features and appropriate compensation (in the form of replicating natural features in other locations or enhancing existing features) for those losses. The protocol triggers as a last resort when all other options to avoid and mitigate losses are exhausted. It will not apply in the Greenbelt’s protected natural features. It will apply in lands adjoining the Greenbelt and could potentially affect its natural features, and therefore it is relevant to our work.
You can read our response to the consultation here.
The first in a new series, Housing Affordability in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, this report places housing prices in the GGH in a global context.
"Understanding the factors contributing to upward pressure on housing prices in the GGH provides the necessary context for policy and planning tools to address concerns of affordability, access and equity in the housing market, in order to create the sustainable and prosperous communities of the future."
Read the full report below.
Stay tuned for the next report in the series!
A new report, Ontario’s Good Fortune: Appreciating the Greenbelt’s Natural Capital from Green Analytics and Sustainable Prosperity finds that in addition to storing over $11.17B of carbon, the Greenbelt provides $3.2B annually in ecosystem services to the region. The report, commissioned by the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, assessed the value of final services provided by the Greenbelt that Ontario residents benefit from.