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Global green infrastructure lessons for successful policy making investment and management


Global Green Infrastructure

Over the last decade, research exploring green infrastructure planning has burgeoned. Transferable green infrastructure messages between locations, though, are
less well established and there remains a visible gap between the conceptual understanding of green infrastructure and its application in practice. Drawing together
evaluations of green infrastructure policy-making and practice from across the world,
Global Green Infrastructure illustrates where successful practices can be identified.
Examples from major green infrastructure development areas in the UK, Europe and
the USA highlight the variety of investment options that can deliver socio-economic
benefits, whilst there is also a growing awareness of the added value of landscape
planning in the rapidly developing cities of India and China.
Reflecting on ten international case studies, Global Green Infrastructure highlights the ways that ecological and engineered solutions can deliver successful urban
development. Based on in situ research with the growing community of green infrastructure researchers and practitioners, Global Green Infrastructure looks at the
contradictions, consensus and expanding evidence base of successful investments.
This book also presents an in-depth commentary on the contemporary approaches
to investment in urban greening and green infrastructure, and draws on the lessons
we have learnt from a decade of experimentation, delivery and reflection.
Ian Mell is a Lecturer in Planning & Civic Design at the University of Liverpool. He
teaches and researches green infrastructure and planning issues across the world,

evaluating the opportunities and disconnects between landscape planning strategy,
policy and practice.

‘This book is a rich source for anyone interested in environmental planning. It
brims over with the author’s natural enthusiasm and provides many opportunities to consider the potentials of green infrastructure. It is the first text that
provides a full picture of the growth, present situation and future possibilities
for green infrastructure planning plus the theoretical background. It gives useful
contextual summaries of the antecedents of the concept and comments on the
varying shades of green in related planning approaches, policies and methods.
It is persuasive in the way it addresses economic, stakeholder engagement and
policy issues through the case study analyses. This is not just an ideas book or
an analysis of past achievements. Through reflection on the global situation and
extensive personal experience on the subject, Ian Mell gives a clear vision of the
benefits and adaptability of a green infrastructure approach and its role as a
natural successor to sustainability thinking in landscape planning’.
Maggie Roe, Newcastle University, UK


Global Green Infrastructure
Lessons for successful policy-making,
investment and management

Ian Mell

First published 2016
by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
and by Routledge
711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
© 2016 Ian Mell
The right of Ian Mell to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in
accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in
any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter
invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or

retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered
trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Names: Mell, Ian, author.Title: Global green infrastructure : lessons for successful
policy-making, investment and management / Ian Mell.Description: Abingdon,
Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references and
index.Identifiers: LCCN 2015035054| ISBN 9781138854642 (pbk. : alk. paper) | ISBN
9781315720968 (ebook)Subjects: LCSH: Landscape protection. | Greenways. | Natural
areas. | Human ecology. | Regional planning—Environmental aspects. | City planning—
Environmental aspects. | Ecosystem services.Classification: LCC QH75 .M387 2016 |
DDC 333.73—dc23LC record available at http://lccn.loc.gov/2015035054
ISBN: 978-1-138-85464-2 (pbk)
ISBN: 978-1-315-72096-8 (ebk)
Typeset in Frutiger
by Keystroke, Station Road, Codsall, Wolverhampton






Introduction: green infrastructure: what, where and why?


The antecedents of green infrastructure: Olmsted, Howard and



Green infrastructure: linking concepts with practice



The USA: water management in Chicago and the Atlanta Beltline


UK: Cambridgeshire Green Infrastructure Strategy and the London
Olympic Park




Europe: green infrastructure development in Paris (France) and Milan


India: lessons in innovative green infrastructure planning in New Delhi
and Ahmedabad


China: evaluating the value of green infrastructure planning in
Shanghai and Suzhou


Global reflections of green infrastructure investment: successes
and barriers




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The evolution of green infrastructure has been quite a personal one for me. I was
born in the smallish town of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, where Sandal Castle
was the majestic landscape of my early childhood. We then moved to north
Lincolnshire in 1989–90 and the arable landscapes of the east of England became
home. While we played in fields and along the river bank, it never occurred to me
that the difference between the urbanity of Wakefield and the rurality of Lincolnshire
was one of multi-functional green infrastructure. My friends and I played, walked,
talked and explored the landscape that offered almost unlimited opportunities to
interact with nature (Richard Louv would be proud). Now, of course, this is clearly
framed as a broader understanding of the affordances offered by a diverse environment. And then I went to university. Moving to Newcastle to study Geography and
Environmental Management provided me with new insights into how people, place
and landscapes interact. Furthermore, the coastline of Tyneside, the Northumbrian
hills and, most importantly, the cultural heritage of Hadrian’s Wall all brought to the
fore the value of landscape: socially, economically and ecologically.
If we move forward 20 years I sit in an office overlooking Liverpool’s two cathedrals and a minute from Abercrombie Square at the centre of the University of
Liverpool campus. Again, landscapes imbued with social and ecological meanings.
I also look at the images in Fig. 1.1 on my office wall: landscapes. For better or worse,
green infrastructure has influenced my research, hence this book, my teaching and
my hobbies. Understanding what motivates us to use and value landscapes, as well
as the more technical and bureaucratic nuances of green infrastructure planning, are
therefore at the centre of this, and at the heart of this book. Throughout it reflects on
over two decades of landscape and urban greening and includes over ten years of my
own work in the field. On occasions this presents more individual assessments of practice based on my own interactions with planners, politicians and developers, while
in other places we hear from respected commentators in the field (pun intended).
Over the last decade research exploring green infrastructure planning has burgeoned. Globally, there is a growing consensus of what, where and how investment
in green infrastructure should be implemented, which is, in many locations, supported by an innovative and integrated policy-making and advocacy arena. Green
infrastructure can therefore be considered the ‘go-to’ approach to contemporary
landscape planning as it holistically addresses climate change, social development
and economic valuation simultaneously.


Transferable green infrastructure messages between locations are less well
established. Moreover, there is a visible gap between the conceptual understanding of green infrastructure and its application in practice. This, partially, reflects
the versatility of the concept to meet a number of landscape planning objectives
simultaneously, but also illustrates the variability in policy and practice across the
world. As a result there has been, to date, no global synthesis of green infrastructure policy and planning which draws on case study material from more than
one location. A number of authors (Austin, 2014; Rouse & Bunster-Ossa, 2013;
Kambites & Owen, 2006; Benedict & McMahon, 2006; Beatley, 2000) all contextualised their understanding of green infrastructure in a single location, be it
at a city or continental scale. This book aims to be the first to comprehensively
draw together primary assessments and evaluations of green infrastructure policy-making and practice in its major development areas (the UK, Europe and the
USA). It will also be the first to explore the growing value of green infrastructure in
expanding regions such as India and China, highlighting the value of green infrastructure as a multi-functional and integrated approach to urban development
and management.
The following book presents evidence from across the globe, examining the development, role and utility of green infrastructure in urban landscape management. By
drawing on a discussion of a number of key thematic principles (multi-functionality,
scale, temporal change, investment policy formation/structures, and delivery focus) it
evaluates each, debating the ex-ante opportunities, as well as the ex-post successes,
that green infrastructure offers to local-, regional- and national-level planners.
Based on in situ research undertaken with the growing green infrastructure community of researchers and practitioners in the UK, USA, Europe, India and China, the
book looks at the contradictions, consensus, expanding evidence base and benefits
proposed for green infrastructure planning. This presents the first in-depth and comprehensive commentary on the contemporary approaches to investment in urban
greening/green infrastructure, where innovations have proved successful, but will
also draw on the lessons we have learnt from investment over the previous decade.
Overall, the book offers insights into how green infrastructure is and can be
developed in different locations. By drawing together case studies from around
the world, the following chapters ask the big questions: who is developing green
infrastructure, why, and how?
Ian Mell
December 2015



Many people should take credit for this book. Since 2005 I have had the incredible
support of a number of amazingly insightful people who have helped to shape my
understanding of green infrastructure. These include colleagues in academia, planning practice and local government; but also family and friends who have pushed
me all the way to presenting these ideas.
I would first like to thank Maggie Roe at Newcastle University, without whom
none of this would have been possible; also in Newcastle, Geoff Vigar, Clive Davies
and Rob MacFarlane for their initial and ongoing support. The support provided
by the University of Massachusetts and Jack Ahern was also invaluable in helping
me get to where I am today. I’d like to thank John Henneberry and the team at the
University of Sheffield for the opportunities they provided on the VALUE project,
and in particular Berna Keskin for being a rare thing: a great colleague and friend.
In local authority in the UK, all the people at East Cambridgeshire District Council
who worked on the Ely Country Park and Planting Parishes projects, particularly
Julie Cornwell; green infrastructure really did turn out to be a ‘win–win’ situation.
Also, everyone who worked on the second Cambridgeshire Green Infrastructure
Strategy in local government and local environmental sector. Moreover, everyone in
the community forest sector in the North-West and North-East (Pete Stringer, Paul
Nolan, Chris McGloin, Donna Murphy, among others), who have been a massive
help, and still are.
Many people have also been crucial in helping put this book together around the
world. In India, Manoj Dabas (Aravali Foundation & Centre for Urban Green Spaces,
New Delhi); Surman Rai (Life and Leaf, Darjeeling), Saswat Bandyopadhyay and Sejal
Patel (CEPT University, Ahmebadad), and all those people who were interviewed or
took part in research activities, thank you all.
In the USA my thanks go to the staff and students in Landscape Architecture &
Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts, the EPC and Parks & Recreation
Department in New York, Abby Cristimoso formerly of Metro Planning, Louise
Young at CMAP, Cathy Geraghty at Wilderness, Deborah Shore at the Chicago
MWRD, Nancy Williamson with the Illinois DNR, Harriet Festing at the Center for
Neighborhoods, and Tom Price with Conservation Design Forum and others all in
Chicago. Erica Davies, Catherine Owen, Lee Harrop, Paul Morris and Kevin Burke at
the Atlanta Beltline and Robby Bryant of HDC Inc. in Atlanta for their insights into
the development of the Beltline.


In the UK, Peter Massini at the GLA (and formerly Natural England), the various environmental agencies in London, David Bethall (formerly of Cambridgeshire
County Council) and the other Cambridgeshire green infrastructure people, Liz
McClelland at the Woodland Trust, and the various community forest partnerships
who’ve forced green infrastructure planning in government policy. And in Europe,
colleagues in Italy, Sweden and Germany: Giovanni Sanesi, Enrico Calvo, Benedetto
Selleri, Cecil Konijnendijk van der Bosch, and Stephan Pauleit.
There are also a number of people a little closer to home that need thanking.
My family, who have provided support, critiques and anecdotes to make this book
possible, I’ll be forever grateful. John Sturzaker who has dealt with a decade of me
talking about trees and grass and stuff, you’ve been a massive help and a great
friend; John – where is Wye? And finally, Alice, who’d have thought we’d be here
now (apart from you, obviously)? We’ve made this happen.
Funding for this work was made available from the Urban Knowledge Network
Asia (UKNA, 2014), an ESRC CASE Award (2005–2009) and University of Liverpool
Pump Priming and Start-up funding (2013–2015).
Finally, I’d like to thank all those at Routledge, especially Louise Fox and Sade
Lee, for their support in making this happen, I couldn’t have done it without you.




Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation
Accessible Natural Green Space Standards
Plan Local d’Urbanisme
Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority
Biodiversity Action Plan
Bharatiya Janata Party
Big Lottery Fund
Cambridgeshire County Council
Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems
Countryside In and Around Towns
Community Infrastructure Levy
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
Center for Neighborhood Technology (Chicago)
Commission for a Sustainable London
Department for Communities and Local Government
Department of Culture, Media and Sport
Delhi Development Authority
Illinois Department for Natural Resources
Department of Environment (Chicago)
Department of Transport (Chicago)
European Landscape Convention
Environmental Non-Governmental Organisation
US Environmental Protection Agency
Ente Regionale Per I Servizi All’Agricoltura e Alle Foreste
Geographical Information Systems
Greater London Authority
Housing Growth Funding
Indira Gandhi International Airport
Local Development Framework
Landscape Institute
London Legacy Development Corporation
London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games
Local Planning Authority
Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transport Authority



Memorandum of Understanding
Municipal Water Reclamation District (Chicago)
National Capital Region (New Delhi)
nature-deficit disorder
non-governmental organisation
National Health Service
National Institution for Transforming India
National Land Use Data
National Planning Policy Framework
Olympic Development Authority
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Olympic Park Development Corporation
Olympic Park Legacy Corporation
public–private partnership
Planning Policy Statement/Guidance
Quasi Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation
Regional Development Agency
rights of way
Regional Spatial Strategy
Royal Town Planning Institute
Section 106 Planning Obligation
South Cambridgeshire District Council
Société d’économie mixte d’aménagement de l’Est Parisien
Singapore Industrial Park
School of Planning and Architecture (New Delhi)
Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation
site of specific scientific interest
sustainable urban drainage system
Strategic Water Analysis
Town & Country Planning Association
Town & Country Planning Organisation
Town Planning Scheme
Urban Development Plans Formulation and Implementation
Valuing Attractive Landscapes in the Urban Economy
Water Framework Directive
Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
Zones d’Aménagement Concreté



Green infrastructure: what, where and why?

This book opens with two thoughts that will help focus the following discussion of
green infrastructure. The first is an anecdote and the second relates to Fig. 1.1. Both,
I would argue, illustrate that we need to take a much broader view on how we value
the landscapes around us and how this should influence the ways in which we manage them. While each thought is, of and in itself self-contained, they do highlight
some of the issues of focus, terminology, scale and valuation that will be discussed
in more depth throughout the following chapters. It is envisaged that these thoughts
will act as a starting point for the much deeper conversation presented in this book
and assist in tying together the myriad aspects of green infrastructure planning.

Figure 1.1 Office
landscape photographs,
Liverpool (UK).


The first thought relates to a conversation that occurred in 2006 when I was
asked to explain what green infrastructure was by a family member. I proceeded to
spend the next 30 minutes discussing the various principles, benefits and locations in
which green infrastructure could be found. In reply I heard: ‘So green infrastructure
can be my garden?’. Yes, I replied, but then went on to explain that it could also
be a whole range of landscape features including woodlands, water resources and
some built environment infrastructure (e.g. cycle paths).
Moving forward to 2014 and I was once again asked what green infrastructure
is by the same family member. She had heard news reporters talking about ‘infrastructure’ (in relation to transport and housing development) and wanted to know
whether there was any connection to green infrastructure. Yes, I replied, there are
elements of green infrastructure thinking embedded in other forms of urban and
landscape planning. What we have to remember, though, is that the context of an
investment is central to the benefits they can deliver. Talking on this again, on 7 June
2014, I was watching BBC World News in Ahmedabad, a location in India that will
be discussed in Chapter 7, and an item on climate change was being discussed. The
reporter was discussing how businesses in the UK were redesigning parking areas
using porous pavements, bioswales and filtration traps to make economic savings.
Finally, green infrastructure seems to be penetrating the mainstream!
In the eight years between these two conversations the principle uses of green
infrastructure have developed extensively within landscape and urban planning (Allen
III, 2012; Beatley, 2012; Kambites & Owen, 2006; Mell, 2010). The level of debate
discussing its values has extended from a small number of research clusters in the
UK and USA into a global exploration of the value of green infrastructure, which has
become embedded in the scoping, planning and management of landscape resources

Figure 1.2 Urban
green infrastructure,
Vancouver (Canada).



Figure 1.3 Forestry
Commission GI
Guidance (UK).

(Beatley, 2000; Davies et al., 2006; Weber & Wolf, 2000; Williamson, 2003). Although
research from the UK and USA is still at the forefront of this process, there is a growing literature in Europe and increasingly in Asia, reviewing the opportunities green
infrastructure provides to address socio-economic and sustainability issues (Boyle
et al., 2013; Lemma & Overseas Development Agency, 2012). We can therefore
argue that expansion has brought landscape back into the mainstream discussions of
development, providing it with a greater visibility, and vis-à-vis, integrity.
Over the same timescale we have also seen green infrastructure filter through
into university teaching curriculums, watched the creation of an increasing number
of strategies and guidance documents and witnessed green infrastructure being
embedded within international (e.g. European Union), national (e.g. the UK) and
sub-national policy (e.g. Cambridgeshire, UK). Moreover, in spite of the variation evident in the details of how and why green infrastructure is being developed between
locations, there is a positive association between the discussions of its value and
its development within policy and practice (Landscape Institute, 2013; Lerner &
Allen, 2012; Hostetler et al., 2011; Roe & Mell, 2008). However, although there is
a growing understanding of what green infrastructure is, how it can be used and
what social, ecological and economic value it can deliver, there is still a lack of consensus regarding how these various elements of landscape and green infrastructure
should be addressed (Mell, 2013a). This is not, in many cases, a negative, because
as landscape planners continue to plan more sustainable places, such variation can
provide alternative approaches for development that instil a more appropriate focus
for investment (Wright, 2011).
The second thought relates to Fig. 1.1. This photograph was taken in January
2015 in my office in the oldest Planning School in the UK, at the University of
Liverpool. It is presented as it represents, to me at least, a number of the key issues


we deal with when we discuss green infrastructure. Fig. 1.1 shows a number of
photographs used in my teaching and research materials that, like many academics, were taken on holiday. They show a number of landscapes in Canada, mainly
in Vancouver and Vancouver Island, which have meanings to me as an individual.
Academically they highlight the range of activities and landscape types that can be
considered green infrastructure. They also illustrate, again to me, some of the most
fundamental issues in green infrastructure research that will populate this book:
perceptions, scale, focus and multi-functionality. The images help to tell the story of
our cultural and industrial relationships with the landscape; they show the wonder
and awe that trees can promote; and they highlight that each of us will find value in
different aspects of a given landscape. Our understanding of these issues, and the
ways in which they interact, therefore frames how we address the scoping, design,
implementation and management of the landscape.
To address these issues, this book sets out a systematic exploration of these
issues focused on a decade of evidence gathering and analysis of green infrastructure research. Using examples of investment from a number of locations across the
globe, both established and growing, the following examines the focus, value and
opportunities for investment in green infrastructure. Each example illustrates how a
nuanced understanding of the local landscape context is needed if planners are to
promote an appropriate set of parameters for development. Drawing on interactions
and a dialogue with a range of stakeholders (academics, policy-makers, practitioners and user groups) the following chapters explore how green infrastructure can
be used to create valuable assets in urban areas and how they can tackle the key
landscape issues of climate change, water management, ecological capacity, and
socio-economic growth.
The book also presents a personal milestone. Since 2005 I have worked extensively
on green infrastructure planning. I have been lucky enough to work with incredibly
dedicated and insightful people to help develop the academic debates of its meaning
(Mell, 2013a, 2010, 2008); I was part of the team who scoped, consulted, wrote
and supported the second Green Infrastructure Strategy (Cambridgeshire Horizons,
2011). I have also stood in muddy fields on cold mid-winter mornings discussing the
best forms of biodiversity management, recreational improvements and accessibility
needed within a range of green infrastructure projects. I have seen how green infrastructure discussions become both increasingly vague yet simultaneously nuanced
when explored in international forums. As a consequence, green infrastructure has
shaped a significant proportion of my working life. The following book is therefore
populated with professional commentary, but is supported by additional personal
insights into the development of green infrastructure in a number of these different

1.1 Why green infrastructure and why now?
Over the last decade, research exploring green infrastructure planning has burgeoned
(Boyle et al., 2013). Globally, there is a growing consensus of what, where and how
investment in green infrastructure should be implemented, which is, in many locations, supported by an integrated policy-making and advocacy arena (Benedict &




McMahon, 2002; Goode, 2006; Lennon, 2014a). Green infrastructure can therefore
be considered as having positioned itself as a ‘go-to’ approach in contemporary
landscape planning, as it holistically addresses climate change, social development
and economic valuation simultaneously (Mell, 2010).
Transferable green infrastructure messages between locations are less well established. Moreover, there is a visible gap between the conceptual understanding of green
infrastructure – the what is it questions, and its application in practice – the so what
questions (Vandermeulen et al., 2011). This, partially, reflects the versatility of the
concept to meet a number of planning objectives simultaneously, but also illustrates
the variability in planning policy and practice across the world. As a result there has
been, to date, no accepted single global synthesis of green infrastructure which draws
on case study material from more than one location. A number of authors, including
Austin (2014), Gill et al. (2007) and Rouse & Bunster-Ossa (2013), have though each
contextualised their understanding of green infrastructure in a single location. To date,
Mell’s (2010) is one of the few evaluations which attempts to find a common narrative
across a number of locations; in this case the UK, USA and Western Europe.
The following discussions aim to be one of the first, if not the first, to comprehensively draw together primary in-depth assessments and evaluations of the
development, role and utility of green infrastructure in policy-making and practice
in each of its major development areas (UK, Europe and USA). It will also be the
first to explore the growing value of green infrastructure in expanding regions,
such as India and China, to highlight the value of green infrastructure as a multifunctional and integrated approach to urban planning. By drawing on a discussion
of a number of key thematic principles – multi-functionality, scale, temporal change,
investment policy formation/structures and delivery focus – the following evaluates how we can debate ex-ante opportunities, as well as the ex-post successes of
green infrastructure which can offer local-, regional- and national-level planners
an insight into the benefits associated with investment in urban greening (South
Yorkshire Forest Partnership & Sheffield City Council, 2012; Town & Country Planning

Figure 1.4 Street trees
in Ahmedabad, India.



Figure 1.5 Promenade
Planteé, Paris, France.

Figure 1.6 Locals
playing Mahjong and
cards in a public green
space in Shanghai,

Association, 2012a). Based on in situ research undertaken with the growing green
infrastructure community of researchers and practitioners in the UK, USA, Europe,
India and China, the following looks at the contradictions, consensus, expanding
evidence base and benefits being proposed for green infrastructure planning. This
presents a comprehensive commentary on the contemporary approaches to green
infrastructure investment, assessment, and where innovations have proved successful, but will also draw on the less successful lessons we have learnt from investment
over the previous decade.

1.2 What is green infrastructure?
Green infrastructure is simultaneously a simple yet very complex approach to landscape planning. At its core are a small number of accepted characteristics that have


been discussed within the academic and practitioner literature since it was first discussed in the late 1990s (Williamson, 2003). These principles, based on notions of
connectivity between people, places and resources, accessibility to the landscape and
the delivery of a range of benefits within an integrated approach to urban-landscape
development, are all key ideas within the green infrastructure literature, all of which
are focused on the assumption that green infrastructure can, and does, promote
landscape multi-functionality. Subsequently, green infrastructure has been reported
as supporting ecological functions, social needs and economic improvements (Austin,
2014; Benedict & McMahon, 2006; Davies et al., 2006; Mell, 2010; Natural England
& Landuse Consultants, 2009; Weber et al., 2006). Since its first use in the late 1990s
(Rouse & Bunster-Ossa, 2013) the ways in which green infrastructure has developed
also illustrates that this set of assumptions have become normative.
For example, in the UK, green infrastructure planning has taken a more holistic
approach to the integration of socio-economic and environmental influences compared to the water-centric approach popularised in the USA (Mell, 2012; Rouse &
Bunster-Ossa, 2013; Thomas & Littlewood, 2010). Therefore, although the focus of
application may differ, within these discussions the principles noted above have been
repeatedly discussed to form the conceptual framework for green infrastructure
planning. Taking a synthesis of the existing research as a starting point, this book
views green infrastructure in the following way:
GI includes the network of green spaces and other natural elements such as
rivers and lakes that are interspersed between and connect villages, towns and
cities. Individually these elements are GI assets and the roles that these assets
play are GI functions. When appropriately planned, designed and managed,
these assets and functions have the potential to deliver a wide range of social,
environmental and economic benefits
(Landscape Institute, 2009: 4)
The Landscape Institute and others (Benedict & McMahon, 2006; England’s
Community Forests & Forestry Commission, 2012; Mell, 2012; Natural England &
Landuse Consultants, 2009; Sandström, 2002) presented a number of key characteristics, which they suggest are central to our understanding of green infrastructure.
These include: establishing connected landscapes, promoting multi-functionality,
supporting the management of a range of green infrastructure assets and integrating the development of more liveable/sustainable places with policy. All of these
reflect upon the proclamation of Benedict and McMahon (2006), who emotively
proposed that green infrastructure is the life support system of our landscapes
and needs to be considered as a series of interactions between socio-economic and
environmental factors.
The following chapters use these key principles to frame the discussion of green
infrastructure in each case study. The final chapter extends these discussions to show
where best practice is visible, but also where opportunities lie for the development of
further innovations in green infrastructure thinking, policy and practice. However, it
is also important to identify at the outset what landscape resources constitute green
infrastructure before moving on to a discussion of why it’s important.



Green infrastructure, as noted at the start of this chapter, is a dichotomous concept. Fundamentally it is a very simple idea, yet in practice the range of resources
which illustrate either the physical or conceptual principles of green infrastructure is
much wider. In basic terms green infrastructure is the natural or landscape resources
that we see in our environments. However, if we can delve deeper and begin to
apply different typologies of spatial restrictions to green infrastructure, we start
to see a more fluid interpretation of how planners and practitioners categorise
these resources. A range of academics, government offices and practitioners have
attempted to find a common thread between these two positions, which has met
with limited success (Ahern, 2007; Kousky et al., 2013; Madureira et al., 2011;
Mell, 2007; Schilling & Logan, 2008). We have also seen a number of attempts
led by national agencies in the UK and USA to produce guidance on what actually
constitutes green infrastructure. From a UK perspective the guidance produced by
Natural England and Landuse Consultants (2009) was one of the first instances of
an agency identifying a specific set of characteristics to ground green infrastructure
thinking. They proposed five such categorisations (see Table 1.1), through which they
have subsequently developed guidance for scoping projects, allocating funding and
establishing management programmes.
Natural England’s typology is not exhaustive. It does, however, illustrate the variability in what they constitute a green infrastructure resource to be. Such variation
is a positive for green infrastructure policy-makers and practitioners, as it provides
them with a number of alternative delivery options. This can also be described as a
potential hindrance, as it provides too great a diversity for the same planners and
policy-makers, which in turn can limit the development of consensus for investment
(Mell, 2013a; Wright, 2011). One benefit of the Natural England typology, as well
as those produced by the Conservation Fund (Benedict & McMahon, 2006) and the
Town & Country Planning Association (Town & Country Planning Association, 2004),

Table 1.1 Natural England green infrastructure typology


Parks and gardens

Urban parks, country and regional parks, formal gardens

Amenity greenspace

Informal recreation spaces, housing green spaces, domestic gardens,
village greens, urban commons, other incidental space, green roofs

Natural and semi-natural urban

Woodland and scrub, grassland (e.g. downland and meadow), heath
or moor, wetlands, open and running water, wastelands and disturbed
ground), bare rock habitats (e.g. cliffs and quarries)

Green corridors

Rivers and canals including their banks, road and rail corridors, cycling
routes, pedestrian paths, and rights of way


Allotments, community gardens, city farms, cemeteries and

Source: adapted from Natural England & Landuse Consultants, 2009.


though, is that it promotes a national-level discussion of what green infrastructure
is and isn’t.
In his initial scoping study Mell (2010) attempted to address the complexities of
this process, stating that green infrastructure could be understood if the ‘Grey–Green
Continuum’ developed by Davies et al. (2006) was utilised. They both went on to
discuss how as planners and practitioners we can identify the value in a number
of different landscape resources moving from more engineered and grey (i.e. built)
forms to increasingly more identifiably green ones (i.e. trees and grasses). The continuum therefore implies that green infrastructure represents natural or ecological
resources, as shown in the Natural England research, but also supports the application
of sustainable/green ideas such as cycle paths. The continuum thus provides options
for green infrastructure practitioners to deliver a diverse range of benefits to a range
of development issues including roadside verges (Marcucci & Jordan, 2013), effective
water management (Philadelphia Water Department, 2011), climate change (Gill
et al., 2007; Goode, 2006) or meeting public health needs (Town & Country Planning
Association, 2012b). Green infrastructure can, as a consequence, be described as
everything and nothing. It also provides opportunities for planners, developers and
practitioners to look at urban and landscape issues from alternative perspectives,
which can be considered a positive process.
One further issue that requires a brief reflection at this juncture is the use of green
infrastructure terminology. Green infrastructure draws on ideas and language from
a number of disciplines (e.g. landscape ecology, geography and planning), and as a
consequence utilises a range of synonyms to describe what it is. This includes the use
of urban greening, urban green spaces, green spaces and to a lesser extent ecosystems and ecosystem services (Mell, 2010). All of these have specific meanings other
than those addressed specifically within the green infrastructure literature. However,
in the same manner that greenways and garden cities (see Chapter 2) are examined,
each of these terms has helped to frame our interpretations of green infrastructure
thinking. For example, in India the use of green infrastructure is still embryonic. As
an alternative the Indian government and practitioners use green space as their key
term for describing green infrastructure practice (Nagendra et al., 2010). Likewise, in
North America the focus on water management, stormwater retention and mitigation installs green infrastructure with a set of water-centric/engineered terminology.
Finally, in continental Europe the use of green structure planning and not green infrastructure still dominates in some locations, e.g. Germany (European Commission,
2012; Liebenath et al., 2010). Each of these alternative understandings can be
described as focusing on the broader process of investment and discussion of green
infrastructure development. Therefore, although green infrastructure will be used
most frequently to describe these practices, other terms, such as those mentioned
above, will also appear within the text.

1.3 Why is green infrastructure development important?
The rapidity of urban development has meant that landscape professionals have,
in many locations, acted reactively to manage change. With an increasing understanding of the drivers and impacts of climate change, landscape planners have



looked to alternative solutions to establish more sustainable landscape practice. The
rise of green infrastructure has coincided with this process, helping its advocates
to establish the concept as a ‘go-to’ process (Mell, 2014). One key assumption in
this process is the notion that there is a flexibility to green infrastructure planning
that enables its users to address a range of development scenarios simultaneously
(Ahern, 2013; Horwood, 2011; Wright, 2011). Water management, biodiversity
conservation, health inequalities, as well as climate change, are all areas where a
green infrastructure approach has been successfully applied (Boyle et al., 2013). The
flexibility of green infrastructure, therefore, reduces the reliance on a small number
of established investment options, providing landscape planners with versatility often
unseen in development (Mell, 2013a).
Green infrastructure planning can also be applied at a number of scales, and
thus offers a flexible approach to investment; promoting cross-boundary collaboration aids the establishment of multi-functional landscape resources. International
policy, such as the Water Framework Directive, is one example of this where green
infrastructure practitioners have made extensive use of spatial characteristics to strategically scope management at a regional and landscape scale (Ahern, 2007; Hering
et al., 2010). Due to the versatility that is explicit within green infrastructure planning
it can (and has) provide opportunities for planners at a local, metropolitan and subregional scale to work effectively across administrative and legal boundaries (Natural
England & Landuse Consultants, 2009; Tzoulas et al., 2007). In such cases green
infrastructure investments can be presented as an approach to landscape resource
management that promotes the use of landscape networks, thus, saving time
and money for the developers and the public through an integrated approach to
investment (Boyle et al., 2013; Roe & Mell, 2013).
Policy focused on green infrastructure also draws on a number of established
green space planning ideas. The integration of landscape ecology principles (networks, capacity building), greenways (connectivity, multiple benefits) and garden
cities (integrated planning, urban greening) – all of which are discussed further in

Figure 1.7
green infrastructure,
Vancouver Island,



Figure 1.8 Town Moor,
public green space,
Newcastle, UK.

Chapter 2 – provide green infrastructure with its conceptual foundation. They also
embed within green infrastructure thinking a set of established delivery practices that
can be drawn upon to promote the delivery of multi-functional landscape investment (Ahern, 1995; Fábos, 2004; Forman, 1995; Howard, 2009). An analysis of
greenways and garden cities also illustrates that the principles of green infrastructure
may not be new, but presents a cyclical re-evaluation of the notions of integrated
and sustainable approaches to planning (Davies et al., 2006; Mell, 2010). Green
infrastructure planning is therefore a contemporary form of landscape planning that
works within the parameters of existing approaches but reframes them to address
more contemporary issues.

1.4 Who is leading the development and management
of green infrastructure?
One of the central questions discussed in green infrastructure research is who is
involved with the visioning, development and management of investments? Across
the world we see a range of stakeholders drawn from government, non-governmental practice, academia and the general public involved in the development of green
infrastructure (Benedict & McMahon, 2006). Invariably this leads to a complex interplay of investment agendas and perspectives, which has, at times, led to disjointed
implementation. In each of the geographical areas discussed in this book, a broad
set of actors holds important roles in the promotion and management of green infrastructure; some at a national scale, e.g. in the USA, others at a city scale, e.g. Paris
and Milan (Beatley, 2000; Hansen et al., 2015). In each case study the mechanisms
that facilitate engagement with green infrastructure are discussed, highlighting the
specific responsibilities that actors have in promoting policy formation and implementation (Horwood, 2011; Kambites & Owen, 2006; Mazza et al., 2011). What is
clear within each example is that involvement with green infrastructure planning is a


fluid process that explicitly requires trans-disciplinary working in order to explore the
most cost-effective and positive socio-ecological outcomes of development.
For instance, in the UK green infrastructure was initially promoted at the subregional level by local planning authorities (LPAs), England’s Community Forests and
the Countryside Agency, who established the initial tentative framework for investment (Blackman & Thackray, 2007; Countryside Agency & Groundwork, 2005). In
subsequent years, changes in central government funding, revocation of landscape
policy and a movement towards a more ‘localised’ approach to green infrastructure has seen the number of engaged stakeholders diversify. Currently, in 2014/15,
Natural England, the Forestry Commission, the National Health Service (NHS) and
the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG – the government
department tasked with managing planning) are all actively discussing the value
of green infrastructure. We can therefore ask how such national-scale bodies are
integrated into the development and delivery of policy when practice varies so
dramatically between locations. What we can suggest is that to effectively manage
development there is a need for greater levels of cooperation, by all bodies, and at a
number of scales (Abbott, 2012; Allen III, 2012). Furthermore, despite the influence
of the bodies and other professional/campaigning agencies in the UK, including the
Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Landscape Institute (LI) and the Town &
Country Planning Association (TCPA), successful green infrastructure projects appear
to retain a sub-national focus.
In two of the case studies presented – Cambridgeshire and the London 2012
Olympic Games site – this process has been key to the successful investment in green
infrastructure. Both involved a number of similar stakeholders – LPAs, key environment agencies (e.g. Natural England or Environment Agency) – yet the development
of the delivery objectives was structured to meet different needs. As a consequence,
the involvement of private investors in London helped to shape the development
of the Olympic Park in a different way to the publically funded scoping and delivery
of green infrastructure in Cambridgeshire. Establishing an understanding of who is

Figure 1.9 Green–blue
infrastructure, Belfast


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