Green Infrastructure

With the resurgence of green in spring, we are reminded of the benefits that trees and greenspace bring our communities.  Green Infrastructure contributes to healthy, thriving cities, but do you know exactly what the term means?  We turn to Karen Firehock, Executive Director of the Green Infrastructure Center in Charlottesville, Virginia for a clear explanation:

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure is made up of the interconnected network of waterways, wetlands, woodlands, wildlife habitats, and other natural areas; greenways, parks, and other conservation lands; working farms, ranches and forests; and wilderness and other open spaces that support native species, maintain natural ecological processes, sustain air and water resources and contribute to health and quality of life (McDonald, Benedict, and O’Conner, 2005). Green infrastructure assets contribute to health and quality of life, such as forests that clean the air and filter and absorb stormwater. Just as we plan for "grey infrastructure" we also need to plan for and conserve our green infrastructure. 

What is Green Infrastructure Planning?

We call our natural resources “green infrastructure” because they provide vital community functions. Green infrastructure (GI) includes our forests, agricultural soils, parks and open spaces, rivers, wetlands and bays, and other habitats. It provides clean water, food, air quality, wildlife habitat and recreation. It also supports cultural resources by providing scenic views and settings that enhance our enjoyment of the landscape. But we need to know where it is and how to conserve or restore it!

In short, green infrastructure planning entails:

  • Inventorying green assets and connections,
  • Identifying opportunities for their protection and/or restoration, and
  • Developing a coordinated strategy to channel development and re-development to the most appropriate locations.

Visit Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) to learn more!

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