Green Infrastructure Research


Green Infrastructure Research
Courtesy of Comhar SDC

Green Infrastructure, through a properly functioning biodiversity, provides space for nature to deliver vital ecological services that underpin our quality of life. Green Infrastructure can be broadly defined as an interconnected network of green space that conserves natural ecosystem values and functions and provides associated benefits to human populations.

Biodiversity continues to decline because its value is not reflected in decision making by business and Government. Green Infrastructure seeks to address this problem by providing a spatial evidence base which highlights the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services to the economy and society.

At a practical level, it provides physical space for natural processes to take place. This benefits biodiversity and also benefits humans through ensuring the provision of ecosystem services , such as clean air and fresh water . Green Infrastructures and its ecosystem goods and services should be viewed as critical infrastructure for Ireland in the same way as our transport and energy networks are seen as vital to sustainable development.

Green Infrastructure is about connectivity. Each individual green space should link into a larger network that incorporates other public and private green spaces in the area. Physical linkages lie at the heart of green Infrastructure, but other linkages are also important. Green Infrastructure should provide multiple social, environmental and economic benefits. For example, there may be areas where farming, forestry, recreation and conservation efforts take place in the same space.

Green Infrastructure offers cost-effective opportunities to meet policy goals. It is cheaper to make investments rather than restoring damaged ecosystems or implementing man-made solutions. Integration of the Green Infrastructure approach can be smart and strategic and offer potential ways of effectively integrating biodiversity into sectoral considerations. This is a real challenge for biodiversity policy and its implementation, and we need to find more effective ways of doing this to make progress in halting biodiversity loss. Green Infrastructure sets out a positive vision for the environment.  

In August 2010 Comhar launched a research report focusing on Green Infrastructure, entitled ‘Creating Green Infrastructure for Ireland’. The report sets out a broad definition of Green Infrastructure and explores and proposes an approach and a set of principles that should be followed in Green Infrastructure planning.

The study sets out how Green Infrastructure might be identified and mapped via three case studies for sample areas covering different general landscape and context types. They included an urban area, a peri-urban area and a more regional rural area. A range of recommendations are set out to support the proper and appropriate use of the Green Infrastructure approach in an Irish context.

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