One of the most significant conclusions to be drawn from this study is that, in our judgment, only 260,107.0 hectares or 19% of south-central Ontario's Greenlands should be considered fully protected under current municipal and provincial policy. As can be seen in Figure 16, the vast majority (81%) of the region's Greenlands have been deemed less than fully protected.
The Official Plans reviewed as part of this study invariably recognize significant natural heritage features, and generally discourage development or site alteration from occurring within them. In most instances, however, they do not absolutely prohibit development. Instead, consistent with the direction provided by the Provincial Policy Statements, development or site alteration within most significant natural heritage features or on nearby lands (that is, within a prescribed distance of the features) may be permitted, if it can be demonstrated that this can occur without resulting in any negative impacts on the feature and its functions. Because this policy framework has on many occasions permitted development within greenlands - largely because it is so difficult to conclusively demonstrate negative impacts, especially where development is proposed adjacent to but not actually within a feature - we have arrived at the above conclusion.