rural climate changeOn August 5, 2020 at 9 am, Robert Barnett and the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy are meeting virtually with the Township of Southgate to share information about fighting climate change in rural Grey. The meeting with Southgate Council is the first of a series of EBC meetings to discuss natural climate change strategies with municipal councils across Grey County.

According to Robert (Bob) Barnett Executive Director of Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC), "Communities that are selling off park land, forest margins and road allowances in rural Ontario are going backwards in the face of climate change."

According to a landmark study in 2017 by the Nature Conservancy published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, greenhouse gas emissions can be cost-effectively reduced and stored in forests, farmland, grasslands, and wetlands to deliver more than a third of the reductions required by 2030 to prevent dangerous levels of global warming.

But not if natural areas and green spaces are swallowed up by development.

Rural municipalities in Grey and Bruce have a better chance to combat climate change than their counterparts in southern Ontario. Why? Because of the natural spaces held in forests, fields and wetlands. Agriculture, woodlands and waterways still cover much of Grey County.

In 2009 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, (MNR) put a dollar value on forest, wetlands, fields and even fence rows in Ontario. The Estimating Ecosystem Services in Ontario study acknowledges " This approach recognizes that there is a cost associated with natural capital." The dollar value of 'ecosystem services' is created by the green or water feature that moderates climate change or flooding, while providing recreation, protected habitats and carbon sequestering.

So what is the value of urban parkland providing aesthetic amenities and other benefits to Owen Sound?

MNR says "an urban herbaceous green space" like parkland that creates aesthetic amenities and other environmental benefits is worth $43,539-hectare in ecosystem services.

How can rural townships like Southgate in Grey where road allowances are being sold realistically evaluate their green spaces by the ecosystem services lost?

Forested rural areas in Grey mitigate climate change and provide essential habitats. MNR places a value of $4,423-hectare on forests while Grey Sauble Conservation ups the price to $5,414-hectare.

The 'natural capital' found in both locations provide climatic and cultural benefits with real value.

EBC agrees with MNR, "When natural capital is lost, it comes at a cost to society."

source: media release


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