Nature and Heritage Conservation in the Greenbelt

Photo of a frog sitting on top of flowering lily pads
Conservation in the Greenbelt
Maps and Publications

The Greenbelt in Ottawa provides a rich habitat for a variety of animals, trees and flowering plants. Wetlands in particular are vital to a healthy environment, for both people and animals. The NCC is focused on conserving the natural and heritage features of the Greenbelt for future generations.

Nature Conservation

The NCC has a long tradition of conserving and protecting natural environments in the Canada’s Capital Region. For over 50 years, the NCC continues to manage and enhance the protection of natural areas in the Greenbelt.

The Greenbelt’s ecosystems help sustain the health and wellbeing of the residents in this region and enhance biodiversity. This makes the Greenbelt’s forests, wetlands, meadows, and other natural features extremely valuable. The Greenbelt:

  • provides a home for plants and trees
  • provides habitat for resident and transient wildlife populations
  • helps combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide
  • helps filter and clean our water
  • helps control flooding and erosion
  • produces fertile soil to sustain local farming.

Conservation Areas

The Greenbelt contains six conservation areas, each with unique ecological characteristics. From west to east these are:


Shirley’s Bay, Stony Swamp and Mer Bleue are all wetland conservation areas. Mer Bleue is an example of a northern bog ecosystem — like those in the Arctic! It has been designated an internationally significant wetland under the Ramsar Convention. The Mer Bleue Management Plan outlines the NCC’s on-going commitment to protecting Mer Bleue as a Ramsar site.


Forests represent close to 3,500 hectares or 18 percent of the Greenbelt. Over the years, some 800 hectares of new forests (3.6 million trees) have been planted in the Greenbelt. Marginal farmlands have been converted into native mixed forests, which include maple and oak trees. Learn more about forestry in the Greenbelt by visiting the interpretive forest trail and tree identification arboretum at Pine Grove.

Heritage Conservation

The Greenbelt is also home to several heritage features. These include:

  • Log Farm, a living museum of an 1850s pioneer homestead
  • ruins of a 19th century lime kiln in Stony Swamp
  • the remains of the Carlsbad Springs, a former health spa and an Ontario heritage site
  • the Black Rapids Lockstation, part of the historic Rideau Canal (1832).