New research has revealed that evaluations of brownfield greening projects often underestimate their social and environmental benefits.
Regeneration projects that see brownfield sites transformed into green space can fulfil important social and environmental functions, such as the provision of wildlife habitats and recreational areas for local residents. However, a recent study has shown that evaluations of such projects tend to focus on their economic benefits, which are much harder to quantify, and rarely take into account the needs of stakeholders other than the funder or developer.
The research, based on an examination of six case studies of brownfield greening projects, showed that certain objectives, such as that of establishing trees and woodland, had not been fully achieved. As the later stages of the projects had not been adequately monitored, problems such as poor tree health and growth, litter and water-logged paths had arisen.
A new framework called the ‘logic model’ is proposed as a more comprehensive method of evaluating brownfield greening projects. This model assesses projects in terms of inputs, processes, outputs (such as the area of land regenerated) and outcomes (such as biodiversity targets). The aim is to evaluate each project less as a ‘finished product’ and more as part of an ongoing process that involves constant monitoring as well as consultation with a broad range of stakeholders.
Doick, K.J., Sellers, G. Caston-Broto, V. & Silverthorne, T. (2009). Understanding success in the context of brownfield greening projects: The requirement for outcome evaluation in urban greenspace success assessment. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 8:163-178. Obtain a copy here.