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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.
An amazing 9.2 million people (or 3 million households) live within 20 kilometres of Ontario’s Greenbelt—that’s over a quarter of Canada’s whole population! 20 kilometres is the distance we consider to be “near home” for nature-based recreation, 73% of which occurs within this radius.
Recently we set out to determine what recreational activities people are engaging in across the Greenbelt, and how much the Greenbelt’s waters and forests contribute to the well-being of our region—an assessment of value known as natural capital.Read more
In celebration of National Soil Conservation Week, we are showcasing two of our current Greenbelt research projects.
National Soil Conservation Week 2017 runs from April 16th to 22nd, and focuses on the importance of proper land stewardship for the benefit of all resources—especially soil—under our care. Led by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, it’s an annual effort to highlight continuing successes in soil management, while at the same time keeping soil health top-of-mind for both farmers and the public.
Photo courtesy of Ontario Farmland TrustRead more
Download the presentations from our March 2017 workshop on natural capital valuation, including:
- Valuation framework and results from "Ontario's Good Fortune";
- lessons from Peel and Oakville pilot projects in the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative;
- an update on the development of provincial accounts;
- and a tactical analysis of how best to use natural capital accounting.