Green Infrastructure in the West Midlands
Green Infrastructure is a major element of Environmental Infrastructure and has a vital role to play in enhancing the places we live, work and enjoy in our spare time, as well as providing an important network of wildlife habitats. It provides economic and social benefits as well as environmental and is a major consideration for sustainability and climate change agendas.
Green Infrastructure, also sometimes referred to simply as Open Space or Greenspace, may be described as the network of green spaces and natural elements that intersperse and connect our cities, towns and villages. It is the open spaces, waterways, gardens, woodlands, green corridors, wildlife habitats, street trees and open countryside. Green Infrastructure provides multiple benefits for the economy, the environment and people and can help promote safer, cleaner and healthier communities and is a key ingredient in supporting work at the local level forming part of the ‘Big Society’.
The Forestry Commission works with key partners in the West Midlands such as Natural England to encourage, help and advise partners at all levels and from all sectors to adopt a green infrastructure planning approach as part of their core activities and influence. Work with Local Authority partners is particularly important in this respect and a green infrastructure approach must become an integral part of work throughout the West Midlands in developing and applying the emerging national planning framework at local level, together with new partnerships and processes linked to the Big Society. It is vital that green infrastructure becomes an integral and significant part of development and wider infrastructure planning, rather than bolted on part way through the process.
Trees and woodlands of course have a major role to play as they form a very significant component of green infrastructure or open space/greenspace, whatever terminology is used. The developing National Tree Planting Campaign focused on urban areas should make a major contribution to local Green Infrastructure, helping to enhance and connect green spaces. This will help provide a range of benefits for local people and wildlife as well as to the economy of local areas.
Evidence and advocacy are important for taking forward green infrastructure and a new publication from the Forestry Commission – The Case for Trees (1.97mb) – should prove useful and influential - see the dedicated website for The Case for Trees.
Forest Research is also working in this area and a new publication on the benefits of Green Infrastructure is expected soon.
Earlier publications in the West Midlands, notably the West Midlands Green Infrastructure Prospectus and accompanying technical report. and the Regional Observatory ‘Fit for the Future’ economic recovery conference 2009 paper on green infrastructure 11th chapter
- are still valid and well used.