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What is a greenbelt? In its most basic form, a greenbelt is a tract of land, green space, aside and apart from development and urban areas. Its purpose may be to protect and maintain valuable farmland and precious natural resources, like fresh water and trees.

Our GreenHero Wangari Maathai found a way to connect her community to its environment by recognizing the social, economic, and political issues they face in daily life.

She created the Green Belt Movement, a global organization that helps local communities by re-shaping and greening their environment through tree planting and building up green spaces.

Believe it or not, Ontario is home to the world’s largest greenbelt. Burkhard Mausberg, president of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation explains how Wangari’s Canadian equivalent has its own way of connecting with its civilians, and how vital it is to our everyday lives.

Just like Wangari’s tree-planting actions, the continued efforts to maintain and grow Ontario’s greenbelt are helping to build an environmental legacy of our own in Canada.


Gail Krantzberg, Professor and Director of the Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, The School of Engineering Practice, McMaster University


By Burkhard Mausberg

President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation


Burkhard Mausberg hiking on the Bruce Trail

Working in the environmental field for over 22 years has taught me a few things. The most important is that awareness of solutions to green issues needs to grow amongst Canadians.

It really comes down to this: we live in a busy world – and many people juggle more balls in the air on a daily basis than ever before. There is this moment at the end of the day, when you sit down, take off your work clothes and think, “How is it already 7pm?”

So as environmentalists, we have to realize that people are busy and we shouldn’t be preaching to them. Instead we need to reach out on their level, their time, their values and what’s important to them.

Which brings us to what I’ve chosen to dedicate my time to over the last six years: Ontario’s Greenbelt. Simply said, the Greenbelt is a great thing for Ontario.

It’s a world-leading law that preserves prime farmland and green spaces around the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

It gives us clean water and healthy local food. It’s bigger than P.E.I. and. In fact, at 1.8 million acres it is the largest Greenbelt in the world.

From producing the Quilt of Possibilities with the Ontario Crafts Council, the Beyond Imaginings photo exhibition at the Harbourfront Centre, and Hockey Night in the Greenbelt events where we sponsor Ontario Hockey League games in the Greenbelt, we are able to connect with people on their turf.

By presenting people with tangible and memorable stories that incorporate into their daily lives in a way that is not heavy handed, awareness – raising is welcomed.

Among the great impact the Greenbelt makes environmentally and agriculturally, it also has some positive economic value. It saves Ontario Taxpayers $2.6 billion per year in environmental services like water filtration and waste treatment and it provides $5.4 billion to Ontario’s economy through farming and its food production.

Ninety per cent of Ontarians believe the Greenbelt is one of the most important contributions to the future of our Province and 88% say that even in hard economic times, upholding environmental policy is important.

As a recognized policy model for the world, the Greenbelt is a critical part of the solution to our environmental concerns and it has the possibility to change the region, our country and the world.

And it’s becoming much more than a land use policy; it’s a legacy that will significantly contribute to a healthier Ontario and reduce our impact on climate change.

Burkhard Mausberg, President of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation


For more information on Ontario’s Greenbelt, visit www.greenbelt.ca
You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, it’s time to speak up:
Share your story of how you’re starting a discussion on climate change and the environment and how you’re making your voice heard by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes
Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns
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(TVO) features an important documentary on the unsustainability of suburban life in North America. The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream this Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.

The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream was created in 2004, six years before the worst oil spill in American history. It’s a disturbing foreshadowing, an exploration of our life in North America, where the “American Dream” is now defined by sprawling backyards in suburbia.

Canada is home to the world’s largest greenbelt, located in Ontario, a space of protected prime ecological and agricultural land; even these spaces are threatened daily by encroaching development and pollution. What the filmmakers reveal is a serious questioning of the sustainability of suburban life, which quietly conceals a deep dependence on oil. As our thirst for oil grows, demand is outstripping supply.

The suburban life, a life which so many of us lead, is comfortable: big yards, cheap housing, and a life away from the hectic downtown core. The suburbs have a long history in North America. Exploding after World War II with economic expansion, veterans returning from war wanted nothing more than to settle down into quiet family lives outside the city. In fact, there was a time when more people lived in the suburbs than cities or elsewhere.

Still today, suburbia is a popular option for families. The thing is, this lifestyle is purely unsustainable. It was built on abundant and cheap oil, enabling millions of people to drive miles and miles to work, shop and eat. It’s an energy-intensive way of life, and an unsustainable way of life at that. It will become economically and ecologically impossible to maintain suburbia in an age of oil depletion.

The film makes GreenHero Leilani Munter’s efforts even more important; as we face declining fossil fuels, how will we survive? How can we prevent a collapse, and how can we change the way we live and build to ensure a sustainable future for our communities? How can we move towards smaller, localized systems that can sustain themselves rather than relying on supplies of cheap, limited, polluting energy? There are no easy answers, but knowing the issues is important – visit our Oil Changers campaign page for ideas on how to switch off of oil and reduce your carbon footprint, and tune in to TVO on Sunday, September 19, 2010 at 4:00 PM to watch The End of Suburbia.

Are you working in a particularly polluting industry? Are you feeling guilty about the fossil fuel and oil you are emitting as a result? Like Leilani, are you doing something to offset or lessen this negative impact on the environment? Share your Oil Changer story here for your chance to win a prize in our contest.

GreenHeroes.tv is all about saving the planet, one story at a time. Do you have a great story to tell about how you’re helping to make the world a greener place? Enter the contest to nominate a friend or yourself – you could be one of Canada’s next GreenHeroes!

Watch and learn about our celebrity GreenHeroes

Read our blog to keep up-to-date on GreenHeroes Campaigns

Sign up for our newsletter

Follow us on Twitter

Become our fan on Facebook

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