About the National Capital Greenbelt

Photo of grass and cattails blowing in the wind
Delicate marshland in the Greenbelt

The National Capital Greenbelt is made up of 20,000 hectares of green space, including farms, forests and wetlands. The creation of the Greenbelt began in the 1950s. Its purpose was to protect the rural land bordering the Capital from haphazard urban sprawl. The Greenbelt has evolved since 1950 and is the only one of its kind in the world. It is a unique and special place that contributes to the NCC’s mission of building a great capital for Canadians.

Most of the Greenbelt (14,950 hectares) is owned and managed by the NCC. The rest is held by other federal departments and private owners. The National Capital Greenbelt is the largest publicly owned greenbelt in the world.


The Greenbelt protects natural areas like forests, wetlands, streams and sand dunes that sustain biodiversity. The natural areas in the Greenbelt support human and ecological health in Canada’s Capital Region.


The NCC supports sustainable agriculture in the Greenbelt. Greenbelt farms produce a diversity of products (milk, meat, grains, fruits and vegetables) that contribute to the food supply and economy of Canada’s Capital Region.


The Greenbelt encourages active living through outdoor recreation. The Greenbelt has over 150 kilometres of trails that support a variety of outdoor activities.

A Living Classroom

The Greenbelt is a place of discovery and environmental education. Each year, more and more children from local schools are visiting the Greenbelt to learn the wonders of the natural environment.

A Scientific Laboratory

Professional scientists and everyday people study the Greenbelt. Research activities include biological inventories, long-term monitoring, and scientific experiments. Two examples of organizations researching in the Greenbelt are:

  • Queens’ University: Geo-environmental engineering graduate students continue to monitor four landslide sites in the Greenbelt using a 21-ft helium-filled airship and digital photogrammetric.
  • Macoun Field Club: For over 40 years the Macoun Field Club has been surveying the plants and animals in Stony Swamp Conservation Area. The Macoun Field Club is a nature club for youth ages 8 to 18 and is sponsored by the Canadian Museum of Nature and the Ottawa Field Naturalists' Club.

Are you interested doing research in the Greenbelt? You may need an NCC Land Access Permit.