Landscape Institute publishes six recommendations for green infrastructure

Landscape Institute publishes six recommendations for green infrastructure

Despite a groundswell of support in recent years, including increasing policy support in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework and Natural Environment White Paper, the Landscape Institute is calling for this growing interest to be matched with funding and a new approach to the landscape that enables GI to flourish. 

Amongst its recommendations the Landscape Institute wants to see local authorities making GI a core requirement in their policy documents, such as development plans and development briefs, and for landowners to think creatively about how to generate capital and revenue to ensure the GI is well funded for ongoing management and maintenance. 

Speaking about the new position statement Sue Illman, President of the Landscape Institute, said: “This new edition demonstrates that a GI approach to land use is often more cost-effective, more resilient and more capable of meeting the social, environmental and economic demands of the 21st century.   It is no longer acceptable to approach these challenges in an isolated way – what we need is for all those responsible for the planning, development and management of our land to take stock and accept that a more dynamic and integrated approach to our limited land resource is crucial.”

The new position document showcases the full range of strategic GI work and completed projects from around the UK. They clearly demonstrate how the use of GI can tackle a range of critical issues from public health and well-being to social cohesion, food and energy security and climate change mitigation and adaption.  For instance, it is widely acknowledged that even modest increases in tree-canopy cover can significantly reduce the urban heat island effect, that soft-planted sustainable drainage can reduce the risk of flooding, and that quality green space can have a major positive impact on land and property values, creating the setting for investment and acting as a catalyst for wider regeneration.

Projects featured include the Great Fen in Cambridgeshire, one of the most ambitious GI projects in the UK, and the Mersey Forest in Cheshire and Merseyside. The Great Fen will see more than 3,500ha of intensively farmed arable land restored to natural wetland and low-intensity farming.  It will play an important part in halting the process of peat degradation (each re-wetted hectare could result in an avoided loss of 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide) as well as managing flood risk and contributing to the diversification of the local economy by creating new jobs in land management, livestock farming and nature conservation.

In Cheshire and Merseyside, the Mersey Forest has attracted £36m of new investment and has been responsible for the development of 150 new jobs.  The project has had a wider effect in improving the region’s image, largely through the greening of land alongside key transport routes and, by reclaiming land and persuading landowners to establish a new woodland on neglected sites.  The Mersey Forest’s massive planting of native trees and woodlands provides for carbon sequestration, which can help mitigate further climate change by absorbing and storing carbon.

The position statement is available at Ecobuild and can be downloaded here.

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