Infrastructure is a large part of any urbanised land. Using green infrastructure means replacing or supplementing traditional built infrastructure with natural and semi-natural systems.
For example, restored wetlands and roadside raingardens can be used to purify water, as well as minimise floods and erosion.
Increasing our urban forest can:
- reduce the urban heat island effect
- deliver enhanced air quality
- enhance people's mental and physical wellbeing.
These natural systems are often able to perform more effectively and efficiently than traditional 'hard' infrastructure solutions. They also provide opportunities to improve degraded natural environments, improve local amenity and enhance long-term environmental resilience.
As well as these benefits, the overall cost of green infrastructure can also be a fraction of constructed infrastructure solutions, due to lower ongoing maintenance costs.
How this can be done
To realise the opportunities that green infrastructure can provide, we can:
- ensure our decision-making gives sufficient consideration and weight to the value of the natural environment and its role in delivering outcomes
- identify green infrastructure opportunities at the early stages of any development. This is important to ensure existing natural systems are enhanced rather than replaced, and to maximise the integration of other functions, such as public amenity and active transport opportunities
- engage with local communities to provide the strong sense of collective ownership that supports long-term usefulness.