Action 11: Nature
Why is nature important?
To assure the prolonged existence of natural heritage and resources, residents must protect and preserve the natural environment. This can be accomplished through stewardship of the land, air and water. Sustainable spaces help communities build an environmental ethic by providing everyday opportunities for people to connect with nature.
In addition, a community with nature present at a variety of levels contributes to the spirit of a place. The availability of green space is associated with increased levels of community social capital, and exposure to nature reduces individuals stress levels, anger and anxiety and replaces these with feelings of pleasure (CIP, 2012).
Town of Orangeville: Case Study
Since 2007, the Town of Orangeville has had a ‘Sustainability Action Team’ comprised of community political leaders and town staff, interested citizens and business personnel. The committee is driven by actions that include: tree planting, community garden establishment, information sharing via an online stewardship guidebook, community festivities (Earth week, school events) and giving stewardship awards.
Recommendations for rural municipalities:
Acknowledge, use and manage natural heritage resources for their important environmental, economic and social benefits to the rural community. Examine opportunities for partnerships with environmental organizations (e.g. Carolinian Canada) that can leverage local natural assets to larger goals and aspirations. Local tourism and economic development benefits can be matched with issues of biodiversity protection/enhancement and climate change adaption/mitigation.
Provide stewardship and voluntary approaches to natural areas and preservation.
Become familiar with approaches to environmental innovation and planning.