Sierra Club Ontario is a strong advocate of Greenbelt protection, and is an active member on the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. The following article discusses the various social and environmental benefits that the Greenbelt provides to Ontario residents, also called ecosystem services, or more formally "Natural Capital". It was originally published on the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation's website, written by staff member Brenna Owen.
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.
The report uses the National Ecosystem Services Classification System (NESCS) methodology to identify a series of ecosystem service accounts that directly benefit residents – for example bird watching, flood protection, and clean air to breathe. Key findings include:
- Recreational activities valued at $2.1B per year
- $224M per year in flood protection for private property
- $52M per year in carbon sequestration
By applying the latest assessment tools in natural capital valuation, the report provides a case study and template for municipalities to establish and assess natural capital. Understanding the value and benefits of ecosystem services is vital for informed decision-making and land use planning.
This report demonstrates that the Greenbelt is providing significant value to residents and is a vital asset to continue to protect and preserve. If the #GrowOurGB campaign to add vital water resources to the Greenbelt is a success, the value will only continue to grow.
Header image source: "Corn Forever" by Flickr user Ken Nash, licensed under CC BY SA-2.0.