About green spaces and green infrastructure
Green spaces include features like parks, allotments, woodlands, gardens, heaths, meadows, fields, city farms, hedgerows and embankments. These link together with ‘blue spaces' (lakes, streams, canals etc) to provide a valuable natural infrastructure which supports people and wildlife alike.
‘Green infrastructure' (GI) provides a huge array of natural ‘services' - from drainage, shade and food cultivation to spaces for recreation, exercise and walking and cycling routes. A mounting body of evidence suggests that contact with greenery and nature is fundamental to human wellbeing, adds to the value of an area and has a positive effect on crime and anti-social behaviour. Sustainable communities require green spaces that promote community wellbeing (including through access to nature), inclusion and self-sufficiency (eg in food, energy and skills). GI has an increasing role in improving our resilience to climate change impacts.
Green infrastructure is an essential part of
our cities, towns and villages and has huge potential to support solutions to big current sustainability issues like climate change (eg by supporting low carbon travel, flood prevention and local food production) and obesity (eg by increasing opportunities for recreation and encouraging of healthy lifestyles). GI is key to the overall sustainability challenge of regenerating our neighbourhoods so that everyone has a decent place to live, whilst also supporting everyone to make the shift to ‘one planet', low carbon lifestyles.
In 2010 Sustainability South West produced a Briefing Note, ‘Urban green infrastructure networks: the social, economic and environmental potential’, exploring the links between ‘green infrastructure' and sustainability in more detail. You can download it below:
Green Infrastructure Guidance Module
In partnership with Natural England, Sustainability South West / SustNav developed a Green Infrastructure (GI) Guidance Module for all those engaged with the investment and delivery of green infrastructure. The module includes the latest of big sustainability issues, including health and wellbeing, climate change and energy, and communities, illustrating ways GI plays a key role in supporting sustainable development.
Module resources include a checklist, based on SustNav's 10 sustainability principles, to help users to identify where opportunities exist to maximise benefits and overcome any barriers in GI projects, policies and plans.
You can download the full module below:
Other Green Infrastructure work highlights:
• Produced a report about the current and potential contribution of green infrastructure to sustainable urban communities: ‘Maximising the multiple benefits of green infrastructure networks within urban ‘growth points’’
• Inputted into a Green Infrastructure Portal website for the region
• Held a green infrastructure/climate adaptation event
• Ran a free Masterclass series: ‘Planting Ideas for a Better Green Infrastructure’
• Held sustainability leadership event, ‘Navigating a healthy, new economy - Joining up economic and health & wellbeing agendas’ and preparing a conclusions and challenges document
• Prepared a feature article for Greenspace's national magazine 'Green Places'
• Hosted 'Growing the Evidence' health and greenspace research symposium, in association with NHS South of England and Greenspace South West. The symposium showcased some of the latest evidence linking access to the natural environment and community wellbeing. It was an opportunity for health, green space and planning leads to come together to explore the potential of a more joined up approach, particularly given new public health responsibilities for local authorities. The event keynote speaker was Dr. Jo Barton (University of Essex): How does greenspace contribute to healthy, thriving communities? What are the opportunities of new public health delivery structures?
You can download the Event Report below - it includes the symposium programme, speakers' presentation slides and the research posters that were featured on the day: