GUEST BLOG: Green Infrastructure - a growing need

25th September 2015 By Emilie Wadsworth

Green Infrastructure is many things to many people, but in general terms, it is the green features that exist in a landscape. This could be anything from existing parks and greenspaces through to designed environmental features such as green roofs and street trees.

Green infrastructure brings environmental, social and economic benefits, providing biodiversity refuges and connectivity across a landscape, in particular in urban environments, where it can help to mitigate climate change, address pollution issues, manage stormwater and provide recreational spaces.  It is widely recognised as important for physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Within the built environment, green infrastructure is becoming more widely recognised as a sustainable and environmental friendly way to develop and features such as green roofs, raingardens, green walls and green bridges are increasingly being included into policy and best practice documents. Scotland is at the forefront of this rise, already having planning policy which promotes and encourages green networks, water sensitive design and green infrastructure technologies.

There is a growing body of research to quantify the benefits of urban green infrastructure for instance the City of Edinburgh Council have estimated that for every £1 spent on the City's parks there is a £12 return in social, environmental and economic benefits. At an individual property level research by CIRIA has shown that buildings with green roofs & walls can be up to 4.5ºC warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer, helping to reduce the costs of heating and cooling.

Millfields Greenwall C Rupert Goddard BuglifeThe Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum (SGIF) is a cross sector association committed to serving the interests of Green Infrastructure development in Scotland. The SGIF recognises that Scotland has particular environmental drivers with regard to the development of Green Infrastructure systems, and is currently working on several projects designed to promote Scotland as a leader in Green Infrastructure. The Scottish Forum on Natural Capital is leading on one of these projects – a “Grey to Green” initiative which is closely linked to the SGIF “10,000 Raingardens for Scotland” project which aims to replace gray infrastructure in urban environments with green to aid water management, reduce flooding issues and increase biodiversity.

As part of Glasgow’s Green Year 2015, the SGIF are organising Green Infrastructure: a growing need  a 2-day international conference in Glasgow on 6 & 7 October. The event aims to showcase some of Europe’s best examples of green infrastructure projects, and celebrate Scotland's contribution. Session themes include Green Infrastructure and Planning, Health, Biodiversity, Lessons from Abroad, and Home Grown Successes. The second day will include an afternoon of site visits to exemplar Green Infrastructure projects around Glasgow.

The conference will be opened by Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Prof Richard Ashely, Emeritus Professor from University of Sheffield
  • Dr Bent Braskerud from the Norwegian Centre for Soil and Environmental Research
  • Tony Barrett, Principal Consultant, AECOM
  • Sue Illman from Illman-Young Landsacpe Design Ltd & former President of the Landscape Institute
  • Prof Richard Mitchell from Institute of Health & Environment, University of Glasgow
  • Roger Crofts from Royal Scottish Geographical Society. 

 

Dr Emilie Wadsworth (@emilie_csgn) provides the secretariat for the Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum and is Heritage & Biodiversity Officer at the Central Scotland Green Network Trust. For more information on SGIF, the conference and projects, visit their website: www.sgif.org.uk and follow them on twitter: @ScottishGIF

The Scottish Green Infrastructure Forum & the Central Scotland Green Network are both members of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital. Representatives from members of the Scottish Forum on Natural Capital are invited to submit guest blogs that are relevant to an audience of public, private and voluntary organisations interested in natural capital. To discuss a guest blog contact Mike Elm, Project Officer, melm@naturalcapitalforum.com / 0131 312 4765.