The Niagara Escarpment is perhaps the most visually astonishing region in all of Ontario. Considered one of the world’s natural wonders, the Niagara Escarpment is said by many to be a “masterpiece of living art” and has officially been recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve site.
Spanning 725 kilometres and covering 1923 km2 of land, the Escarpment is home to a range of farms, towns, cities, villages, recreation areas, sweeping scenic views, thousand-foot tall cliffs, wetlands, and waterfalls. Most notably of all of these - of course - is Niagara Falls.
One site to definitely check out while visiting the Niagara Escarpment would be the Niagara Gorge. Formed 18,000 years ago from melting ice sheets, the Gorge hosts forest unlike any other due to its elevation and proximity to the water! Not to mention, it's a great place for bouldering, for all of you rock climbers out there.
From an agricultural perspective, the Niagara Escarpment offers perfect growing conditions for tender fruit and grapes. The Niagara tender fruit growing region is one of the most productive fruit growing regions in the world! The Niagara Peninsula - between the escarpment and Lake Ontario - produces the largest amount of Ontario’s tender fruit.
•94% of Ontario grapes come from the Niagara region
•90% of Peaches
•80% of plums
•75% of sweet cherries
•72% of pears
•60% of sour cherries
Did You Know, the Niagara Escarpment:
- Over 20,000 jobs and contributes $1.4 billion to the total regional agriculture's GDP.
- Provides up to 90% of all of Ontario’s tender fruit production.
- Is the most diverse region in the province.
- 90 species of fish can be found within the Niagara Escarpment.
- Is home to over 350 species of birds.
- Is home to 109 species which are considered threatened or endangered.
The Niagara Escarpment isn’t just beautiful nature, it’s also an economic hub. Did you know that the Niagara Escarpment:
- Supports over 20,000 jobs
- Contributes $1.4 billion to the region’s agricultural GDP
- Provides up to 90% of all of Ontario’s tender fruit production
- Is the most biodiverse region in all of Ontario
- Includes 90 species of fish and 350 species of birds
- Is home to 109 species of plants and animals considered threatened or endangered.
Aside from the ecological benefits, the Niagara Escarpment offers some of Ontario's most beautiful and unique natural settings in which to walk, camp, cycle, or drive. The presence of large rock formations and dense forest create a hiker's paradise - and given that the Escarpment extends as far north as the Bruce Peninsula, it provides a wealth of unique nature experiences across the Greenbelt for you to discover! However you like to experience nature, the Escarpment literally has something for everyone.
The Oak Ridges Moraine was formed over 12,000 years ago by advancing and retreating glaciers; the Moraine currently forms the watershed divide between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe, and is the headwaters to more than 30 rivers. Due to its location and formation, the aquifer located below the Moraine contributes to both local and regional ground water flows; making it an essential asset for Ontarians.
Beyond being both a natural and essential resource for ground water flows, the Moraine is also home to a variety of diverse vegetation and wildlife species. In fact, the Moraine is home to over 1,000 plant species; 30 species of reptiles and amphibians; 51 mammal species; 73 fish species; and 74 species of butterfly—just to name a few!
Did you know, the Oak Ridges Moraine:
- Contains 32 municipalities, and 9 conservation authorities.
- Has over 40 non-government environmental organizations conducting work relating to the Moraine.
- Contains 125 distinct species of moss.
- Is home to over 70 dragonfly/damselfly species.
- Is home to 88 provincial/national at-risk species.
Also part of the Oak Ridges Moraine is Holland Marsh, which is referred to as 'Ontario's Vegetable Basket' because it produces not only a large volume of fresh vegetables for Ontarians to eat, but a wide variety of them as well.
Perhaps most importantly, the Oak Ridges Moraine represents the collaborative spirt of Ontario. While an ancient glacial relic itself, decades of various community-organized conservation efforts around the Oak Ridges Moraine date back to the 1940s, making the Moraine every bit a successful "social innovation" as much as an environmental initiative based on a 2014 study (https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol19/iss1/art48/#discussion14). Protecting the Oak Ridges Moraine from development has become a proud Ontario tradition for generations!
The reason for this continued pressure is due to the rapid population growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. As Canada's fastest growing region, nearly 9 million Ontarians (slightly less than 1/4 of Canada's population) reside within a 20 minute drive of some part of the Greenbelt - and that number is set to explode to 13.5 million people by 2041. As the Greater Toronto Area continues to grow and expand, the calls for access to more land will grow, but the Oak Ridges Moraine is so much more valuable to the Greater Golden Horseshoe than simple buildable land.
It feeds our families fresh locally-grown vegetables, it provides us with clean drinking water (over 20% of earth's fresh water is located in the Great Lakes water system, and over 6 million Ontarians depend on the Oak Ridges Moraine for clean water), it keeps farmers and food producers in business powering Ontario's economy, and it provides us with idyllic natural space which connects us to the timeless wonders of a living and breathing ecosystem as complex as the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Serves: 4 to 6
2lbs ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 medium onion, sliced
4 cloves of crushed garlic2
tablespoons olive oil
fine sea salt
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable)
1/2 cup white wine
5 shakes of Tabasco (or more to taste)
10 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup of heavy cream (optional)
Working as a cook in Toronto for nearly a decade, I have experienced firsthand the amazing bounty of Ontario’s local food offerings. As Ontarians, we are fortunate to have year-round access to world class beef, pork, poultry, dairy and cheese. In the spring and summer, locally grown fruits and vegetables keep seasonal eating fresh and exciting. What all of Ontario’s local food has in common is it comes from amazingly fertile soil—an often overlooked and unsung hero. As Local Food Week approaches, June 3-9, 2019, I think it’s important to realize that Ontario’s soil has much more to offer our communities than just delicious food; it also plays a critical role in Ontario’s environmental health and climate change resilience strategy.Read more
What do you do when your canoe tips at the beginning of a 10 km journey? Carry on and support the Don!
On Sunday May 5, 2019, the Greenbelt team had a blast at Paddle the Don. Sponsored by Manulife, the annual Paddle the Don event brings together recreationalists, conservationists, and corporations to voyage Canada’s most urbanized watershed, the Don River. Over the course of 3 hours, paddlers took on 10km of rapids, portages and Canadian geese to raise awareness about the health and importance of having protected, flowing urban river valleys.Read more
So, you may be asking yourself, “what exactly is the Greenbelt?”
Created by legislation known as The Greenbelt Act, passed by the Government of Ontario in 2005, Ontario’s Greenbelt is a 2 million acre stretch of land in southern Ontario which encompasses farmland, forests, wetlands, and watersheds; it extends as far north as Tobermory, and stretches 325 kilometres from Rice Lake in Northumberland County to the Niagara River. The primary objective of this The Greenbelt Act was to prevent urban development and sprawl on agricultural and environmentally-sensitive land in one of North America’s fastest growing regions – the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). In fact, the population of the GGH is anticipated to increase from 9 million people to 13.5 million by 2041! This puts increasing pressure on the resources that provide us with clean air, drinking water, and healthy local food.Read more
April 16, 2019 - On April 16, equipped with garbage bags, gloves, and other thing-a-ma-bobs, we set out to reduce litter in Ontario; one green acre at a time. Litter clean up is important, as litter can often find its way into our fresh water systems, affecting the drinking water of over 7 million Canadians.
Our team was quick to realize that, once you start looking for litter, it really is everywhere. That white speck in the distance? Litter. That blue and orange flower-looking thing 5 yards away? Litter. That dark mound of shreds looking like moss near the waterway? Litter. And what's more important, these little bits of litter and plastic often find their way into our Urban River Valleys; piling up and polluting our local water systems and great lakes!Read more
Earth Day is the largest environmental event in the world, but participating only requires one small act:
To celebrate and protect our earth, the Greenbelt Foundation invites our friends and friends of friends to #Pick5toThrive!
How #Pick5toThrive works:
- Participate in a community or individual Earth Month clean up activity
- Take a photo or make a video – share your clean up on social!
- Nominate and tag 5 friends on social media to do the same
Are you up for the challenge? Join us in the movement towards a healthier, thriving planet.
Check out our recap video by clicking the image, below:
Along with a few words form our CEO on the initiative.Read more
Apr. 1, 2019 - Spring is officially here and you might be asking yourself, “what can I look forward to this spring season?” Don’t worry, the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation has got you covered!
We all know that spending time out in nature is not only great for the body, but also great for the mind. Aside from the sheer goodness gained through ample amounts of Vitamin D (remember, you should be wearing shorts and a t-shirt and be outside for at least 20 minutes to receive any benefits), being out in nature also has an exceptionally effective calming effect on the mind. Pair that with a bit of good-natured exercise, and you have the perfect recipe for encouraging a more healthy, active lifestyle.Read more
Get out, and get back to nature!
Jan. 22, 2019, Toronto, ON - Just before the holidays, I had the privilege of taking part in a Greenbelt Foundation sponsored event called, “Into the Greenbelt” (this one took place at Rouge Park). Led by the team over at Park People, the idea behind these walks is to support the exploration of the Greenbelt, most notably the newly protected Urban River Valleys.