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Green Belt Policy: Definition, Benefits and Examples
Blog...Green Belt Policy: Definition, Benefits and Examples

Green Belt Policy: Definition, Benefits and Examples

Ecology News
What is the Green Belt Policy? Is the Green Belt Policy successful at preventing urbanization and protecting existing green land?
Ecology News

As modernization continues to grow, space for housing continues to be a pivotal problem that prevents urbanization from accelerating at the pace that it could – and the Green Belt Policy is the reason for this.

New apartment complexes or housing residences are often created at the cost of keeping corners too close. In other words, people in cities like San Francisco and New York City are, “on top of each other” since there isn’t enough space in these cities to accommodate everyone comfortably.

Why does the Green Belt Policy strive to keep urbanization and urban sprawl at bay, and it is successful in doing so?

What is the Green Belt Policy?

The Green Belt Policy is an environmental method that strives to keep a portion of available land open and free from urban development.

The Green Belt Policy first started back in 1935 in the United Kingdom. The Greater London Regional Planning Committee made a proposition to reserve public open spaces and provide green recreational areas for people who live in urban spaces – hence the term “green belt”. 

There are five key components to the Green Belt Policy: to prevent unnecessary urban sprawl, to avoid cities from being “on top” of one another, to preserve any neighboring countrysides from roaches or other harmful pesticides from the city, to maintain the unique personality and history of old towns, and to encourage the upkeep of deteriorating urban lands. 

👉 The primary purpose of the Green Belt Policy is to mitigate unsustainable urban sprawl by aiming to keep available land spaces open permanently. 


How does the Green Belt work?

Any land that constitutes as “Green Belt Land”, which is ultimately determined by local planning authorities – is required to not be considered by any potential planning controls seeking urban sprawl or urbanization. These local authorities are responsible for implementing a Green Belt Policy in their local planning when seeking to build new housing.

The protection of any Green Belt land is meant to be permanent; these lands are not meant to be reconsidered for urban sprawl or urbanization later on down the road.

What is the difference between urban sprawl and urbanization?

Urban sprawl and urbanization technically mean the same thing, but it is helpful to note that urban sprawling is most often referred to as the purposeful overcrowding and over-building of a city space.

Think of someone trying to close their suitcase when there’s too much stuff packed inside. While it’s often possible, it usually isn’t the most comfortable for you or the plethora of items sitting claustrophobic inside your suitcase.

Urban sprawling is often the building block that leads to the term urbanization, as urban sprawling illustrates the expansion of cities by “sprawling” those cities out farther than they were intended to be through the use of rural lands that would otherwise go untouched. However, both ultimately define the process of expanding a city plan and seeking population growth by turning rural land into urban land with the intent to create more living space for newcomers seeking to relocate to the city in question.

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Why is the Green Belt Policy important?

The Green Belt Policy is important because it seeks to preserve remaining green areas that can benefit human life and the environment.

Without the purposeful preservation of green areas or “green belts” – any and all available green spaces would more than likely be destroyed for the sake of continued urbanization. 

The Green Belt Policy helps to promote environmentally friendly urban landscaping. In short, without the Green Belt Policy – urbanization would have no limits.

Green belt lands are imperative to preserving local biodiversity and natural resources by offering space in the event of flooding to safeguard an already scarce water supply. Also, green belt lands can help to capture excess carbon dioxide with their large amount of trees or forests. Processes like reforestation wouldn’t be as necessary if the Green Belt Policy continues to protect green belt lands from deforestation or urbanization.

👉 Overall, continuing to advocate for the Green Belt Policy will benefit both city planning and the environment.

The Green Belt Policy also seeks to preserve agricultural lands, as nearly two-thirds of green belt land is used as land to produce crops. Therefore, it is crucial that the Green Belt Policy is maintained – as global population growth and climate change are contingent on preserving viable land to grow food.

Agricultural land is already becoming less and less readily available, as the human population now only produces around a third of their own food. To mitigate this unnecessary, negative change – we need to protect our green spaces and the wildlife and resources that dwell in green lands.

While housing crises in large cities is an incessant and predominant problem, these urban areas should strive to establish better-designed, located, and affordable housing units that also pertain to environmental needs. It’s easy for housing organizations to assume that building on available green belt land is the easiest solution to the housing crisis as it’s immediate, but it is ultimately more harmful than beneficial – as building on designated green belt areas depletes other future resources that can aid in the fight against climate change.

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What are the current goals of the Green Belt Policy?

The Green Belt Policy aims to only alter available green space when absolutely necessary; documentation for evidence of no other viable options must be provided if a green belt land is to be used for urbanization.

The Green Belt Policy strives to continue to update their policy according to potential environmental changes that could provoke the desire to use green areas for urban sprawling in attempts to permanently preserve green belt areas.

The Green Belt Policy encourages landscaping authorities to utilize already existing, feasible brownfield sites and land for urban development. Mitigating the use of green belts also forces local authorities to re-evaluate density standards and accentuate the need for conversations with neighboring cities regarding urban development and the sustainability of each new urban project.

What are the benefits of the Green Belt Policy?

The Green Belt Policy is extremely beneficial to all assets of Earthly life.

Preserving green belt lands helps to control urban sprawl, preserve the agricultural industry, and safeguard the historical, unique character of various rural communities.

Due to the heavy association that the Green Belt Policy has with urbanization, it is often overlooked how vital green belt lands are to wildlife and resources. These green belt lands nurture the ecosystem and the resources they provide human life. The Green Belt Policy helps benefit wildlife by protecting their habitats in the midst of the climate change crisis. 

The Green Belt Policy promotes a common value and ideal in the midst of the many environmental crises we face: how to use what is available to you as a means to not waste valuable resources. For instance, the Green Belt Policy encourages the use of brownfield lands that would otherwise remain unused when many of these lands are suitable for urban development.

The Green Belt Policy also highlights the capability for local communities and local planning authorities to offer more affordable housing in villages and improve public transport to stimulate economic growth. It’s possible for urbanization to occur without building new homes, but rather to improve already existing communities – and the Green Belt Policy helps to shed a light on this perspective.

Avoiding the use of green belt land allows the opportunity for landscaping authorities to make use of the other urban development options available to them. 


Can the Green Belt Policy help tackle climate change?

Since the Green Belt Policy protects green land that helps to preserve wildlife and the ecosystem, the Green Belt Policy does indeed help to tackle climate change as it strives to maintain natural environmental balance. Avoiding urbanization where unnecessary, which is the primary purpose of the Green Belt Policy, helps to decrease excessive car use or traffic that emits high levels of carbon dioxide emissions of greenhouse gasses – and maintain the historical content of old towns and cities.

In fact, the Green Belt Policy has proven to be so efficacious, that there is an ongoing debate on how to increase the protection of these green areas that the Green Belt Policy strives to preserve. Some argue that the Green Belt Policy doesn’t offer strong enough measures to mitigate urbanization; people who reside in the countryside have gone to the extent of calling for greater green belt protection in the midst of accelerated urbanization and industrialization.

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👉 However, it is important to note that while some argue for stronger green belt measures – the Green Belt Policy is still successful and helps to preserve green areas from urban sprawling, which all ultimately help to fight against climate change.

Still, as urbanization and industrialization continue to rapidly increase in an unforeseen manner – there are still opportunities to provide more stringent measures to green lands that are currently protected by the Green Belt Policy.

Future generations could help to improve the Green Belt Policy by calling attention to the benefits that the Green Belt Policy has on climate change. The preservation of green areas is crucial to protecting ecosystems, avoiding unnecessary urbanization, and to promote well-rounded lifestyles – all while fighting against climate change.

The Best Examples of the Green Belt Policy 

The most quintessential of the Green Belt Policy is where the idea originated: in London, England.

The Green Belt in England commenced back in the 1930s, and was structured around the city of London by local authorities in attempts to abstain the city from excessive urbanization. This is why there haven’t been any new cities that have been established outside the perimeter of the Green Belt; these cities are not considered a part of London.

In short, if it weren’t for the Green Belt in England – London would be even bigger than it already is today, and make it a city that would require even more resources and produce even more carbon emissions than it already does. This Green Belt has been well preserved for nearly a century.

Another example of the Green Belt Policy are the Green Belt projects taking place in Beijing.

Beijing City is currently trying to build a second green belt that will consist of tree plantations, open spaces, agricultural lands, and residential areas in attempts to mitigate urban sprawling. This new green belt in Beijing is an example of improving upon previous green belt projects, as the first green belt in Beijing was not successful in preventing excessive urbanization.


How can you help the Green Belt Policy?

You can enforce the values of the Green Belt Policy in your own everyday life by committing to sustainable actions like reducing waste and reusing resources that you already have.

Also, it’s important to encourage and educate others of the importance of green areas to aid in the fight against climate change, and simply for the ultimate well-being of both human and wildlife. If you do choose to relocate to a recently urbanized area, make it known to your local community and city hall about the importance of preserving green spaces and having a green belt.

What about Greenly?

If reading this article about the Green Belt Policy has made you interested in reducing your carbon emission to further fight against climate change – Greenly can help you!

Greenly can help you make an environmental change for the better, starting with a carbon footprint assessment to know how much carbon emissions your company produces.

Click here to learn more about Greenly and how we can help you reduce your carbon footprint. 

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