Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure in Urban Planning

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Biodiversity Green Infrastructure in Urban Planning

Introduction

In the 1990s, the concept of Green Infrastructure has been mentioned in the United States. It used to be identified as an approach to deal with water management, climate adaptation and multifunctional green space. Now, after long time study, EU identifies that:

Green infrastructure is the network of natural and semi-natural areas, features and green spaces in rural and urban, terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine areas, which together enhance ecosystem health and resilience, contribute to biodiversity conservation and benefit human populations through the maintenance and enhancement of ecosystem services. Green infrastructure can be strengthened through strategic and co-ordinated initiatives that focus on maintaining, restoring, improving and connecting existing areas and features as well as creating new areas and features.” (Naumann, 2011)

This essay will discuss the utility of GI in biodiversity aspect. It will show the basic functions of GI for biodiversity and policy context in UK planning system and EU level. After that, this essay will study three cases and provide argument about effect GI project.

General Impact on Biodiversity

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Urban Green infrastructure can contribute to biodiversity through provide high quality air, soil and water. This influence will be mediated by the flow of air or water between components of the wider landscape, or the use of green space elements for resources or movement.

Increase habitat area

The habitats provided in urban green infrastructure can be particularly important for a range of species. As the area available for habitation increases, both the population size of individual species and the total species richness of an area increase. The species-area relationship works approximately well for urban parks and other isolated urban green space patches (Colding, 2007).

Part of the species-area relationship is due to larger areas tending to have a greater diversity in habitats.

Increasing populations of some protected species

A wide range of UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) priority species make use of urban green infrastructure. Some habitats that are characteristic of urban green infrastructure are of national or international importance. In particular, the new UKBAP habitat ‘Open Mosaic Habitat on Previously Developed Land’ (OMHOPDL) is concentrated in urban and peri-urban areas. It is an important habitat for many rare or threatened invertebrates, plants and birds due largely to the unique soil conditions. Green infrastructure can assist in increasing such populations.

Increasing species movement

Urban green infrastructure creates opportunities for longer-distance movement for some species. This allows species to move around within, and between, urban areas

Policy context

There is a clear policy framework that indicates green infrastructure’s contribution to biodiversity in United Kingdom. Natural environment white paper (2011) sets out the long-term target which aims to halting biodiversity loss by 2020 and establishing ecological networks. And the whiter paper considers GI as ‘the links in our national ecological network’ and ‘one of the most effective tools available to us in managing environmental risks such as flooding and heat waves’. Green infrastructure Partnership (2011) identifies GI as an approach to enhance ecological networks and improve communities’ health; protect wildlife and resilience to climate change. The National Planning Policy Framework indicates that GI can reduce influences by human activities on biodiversity and provide net gains.

The European Environment Agency proposed the EU 2010 Biodiversity Baseline that EU has failed the target of halting biodiversity loss in 2010. The Natura 2000 identifies that EU should built green infrastructure to improve ecosystem and link urban area and rural area. Green Infrastructure includes reforestation zones, green bridges and green roofs, green urban areas, fish migration channels, floodplain restoration and flood-retention facilities as well as natural areas, high-value farmland and forest areas, which demonstrate the advantages of nature-based solutions to purely technical ones, or innovative planning approaches for intelligent, multi-purpose land use.(EU, 2014)

Case study

The old Rough Wildflower Project

""The old rough wildflower project is a landmark project for land life showing that high quality and creative landscape can improve daily life and biodiversity. The project is a community landscape project which is located in the Northwood area of Kirkby, near Liverpool. The project includes over 2hectares of dramatic wildflower landscapes, which are established on a thirty-year old public housing area. In addition to, members of community environment task team area trained to response creating high quality landscapes for the Northwood Community.""

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The wildflower project not only protects the wildflower in urban area, but also brings economic and social benefits to this place. This area is used to be a ramshackle public housing area with residents, who are highly deprived and have low expectation in built environment. Now, the beautiful flower brings new energy to the community. People appreciate to enjoy the view of wildflower landscapes

The wildflower project is an excellent new townscape, which was given the UK-MAB Urban wildlife award for providing a high quality landscape of wildflowers. The project was invested by charity organization, Landlife. And the maintenance work is led by local church people, which includes litter removal and tidying of the area.

The Florida Wildlife Corridor

With decades planning and preparations, the state’s Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN) has established priority ecologic corridors to providing habitat for wide-ranging species, which may include Florida Panther and Florida black bear. From Everlades to Okefenokee, the corridor combines all of the critical linkages to construct a function network of public and private areas, which would protect the ecosystem service, native biodiversity and natural heritage.

""

(picture2, source from Florida corridor)

Targets of Florida wildlife Corridor Project:

  • Protect and restore habitat and migration corridors essential for the survival of Florida’s diverse wildlife, including wide-ranging panthers, black bears and other native species
  • Restore water flow to the Everglades and sustain water supply to southern Florida
  • Continue to safeguard the St. Johns River and water supply for central and north Florida
  • Sustain the food production, economies and cultural legacies of working ranches and farms within the corridor
  • Bolster local economies through increased opportunities such as hunting, fishing, birdwatching and other forms of eco-tourism
  • Give wildlife and plants room to adapt to a changing climate and sea level rise

The corridor project is responded by many natural organizations, such as the nature conservancy, the conservation trust or the everglades. According to the targets, the corridor also can connect the farms and ranches within it. It can attract the visitors to increase the local economic development. And the private landowner and relevant stakeholders would take part in the project to contracture and protect the corridor.

The Florida wildlife corridor project is a national project which influences on several regionals, states and federal agencies. And it is also a long-term plan which requests people sticking to implementation. In order to popularizing the project, several people launched an expedition from Florida Bay in Everglades National Park up the peninsula to Okenfenokee National wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia. Through videos, pictures and blogs, they showed the view of corridor to public. They want to raise awareness of public about their importance to the Florida.

Ely Country Park

Ely country park project aims to protect the valuable habitat for wildlife in the eastern edge of Ely, such as lakes, reed beds, woodlands and grass lands. The project was proposed in 2006 at first time. After cooperation with local land owner and hundreds of members of public, Ely wild space created a multiple- functional zone which is recognized as green space fo""r wildlife and local people alike. (picture3, source from wildspace)

Roswell Pit

""""Roswell Pit supports many breeding birds including the great crested grebe and kingfisher and provides foraging and resting areas during winter for other birds such as the bittern. With a wide variety of habitats many other species are found here including water voles, otters, a number of bat species, nightingales, terns and many plants including the bee orchid and giant horsetail. It is also a recreation facility, providing access to sailing and angling.

Ely Common

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""(Picture 5, source from wildspace)

The common is a popular walking and recreation area. It is also a beautful wild flower meadow supporting species such as adders tongue fern, and there are historical records of green winged orchids.

Springhead Lane meadow

""(Picture 6, source from wildspace)

This area supports species such as grasshopper warblers, water rail and redwing and provides hunting grounds for barn owls.

Pocket Park

""(picture 8 , source from wildspace)

A park close to the city centre, this area provides open green spaces that are used by many people for recreation.

Now, Ely Country Park is a successful project for protecting and enhancing local biodiversity. And the park also becomes a welcome relaxing area for local residents in spare time. People can fly along a zip wire, grapple your way up a climbing frame and enjoy the company of friends and family. In general, this project was invested by the Natural England and the Wildlife Trust.

Comparison

The old Rough Wildflower

The Florida Wildlife Corridor

Ely Country Park

Level

Local

State

Local

Investment

Charity, organization

Government, organization fund

Organization fund, public fund

GI options

Landscape

Ecologic corridor

Country park

Biodiversity Benefits

Wildflowers

Survival of Florida’s diverse wildlife, including wide-ranging panthers, black bears and other native species

Valuable habitat for wildlife, including lakes, reed beds, seasonally flooded meadows, woodlands and grasslands

Time scale

Short

Long

Short

Other function

Improve built environment, quality of health and life, Education

Restore water flow to the Everglades and sustain water supply to southern Florida

Sustain the food production, economies band cultural legacies of working ranches and farms within the corridor

Bolster local economies through increased opportunities

relaxing area for local residents in spare time

Management

Local church people, litter removal and tidying of the area.

Florida state government

Ely Wildspace, local council

Public participation

Local residents

Landowners, local people

Landowners, local people

According to the table, a successful GI for biodiversity should include appropriate financial support, specific targets, multiple-function and good public participation. In investment part, official organizations usually will response the finical support. On regional or national level, the global organization and government will normally be one of the investors. And on local level, relevant stakeholders or landowners may take part in the process of raising capital. A good GI plan should have specific targets. Planner should identify the objectives which are exactly requiring by local people. At same time, planner cannot consider GI options for biodiversity without relevant aspects. Human, environment and wildlife cannot be separated during planning process, because each activist of one aspect will influence the others. GI does not only value on ecological resources, but also value on economic and social issues. During planning and implementation process, planner should invite relevant stakeholders to participate in the project. Collecting their opinions and accepting their help may help decision marker to create better choice.

In addition to, planner should stick to manage the GI after its construction. The wildflower project is managed by church people to protecting high quality landscapes and holding exhibition for students and visitors. The Florida agency holds a Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition to attract public people getting involved in the project. And Fly Wildspace research the new approach by cooperation with landowners and other organizations to promote the country park. As a rustle, people need find a way to keep the GI project working. Perhaps, planner should make change or new plan for current GI to adapt development.

In local level, GI plan may normally focus on protect specific habitat which should create short term benefits. On regional level, GI plan may cover on how to enhancing the ecosystem services or linkages with surrounding areas. Under different policy context, GI can exert its best effect on biodiversity.

Conclusion

In general, Green Infrastructure can contribute to produce high quality landscapes for wildlife; can maintain and improve the health of the natural environment to establish a valuable ecosystem; can increase ecological connectivity for habitat. A successful GI project for biodiversity should include appropriate financial support, specific targets, multiple-function and good public participation. And on different planning level, GI project should have different focal point. In order to creating more effective GI project, planner may focus on improving public investment, quality of design and monitoring process.

Reference

Naumann, Sandra, McKenna Davis, Timo Kaphengst, Mav Pieterse and Matt Rayment ,2011, Design, implementation and cost elements of Green Infrastructure projects Final report

Ely Wildspace, 2014, Background of Ely Country Park, Available from:

http://www.elywildspace.org.uk/Background.htm [Accessed 23th March 2014].

Eastcamb, 2014, Ely Country Park, Available from:

http://visitely.eastcambs.gov.uk/attractions/ely-country-park [Accessed 23th March 2014].

Floridawildlifecorridor, 2014, ABOUT THE FLORIDA WILDLIFE CORRIDOR INITIATIVE, Available from: http://www.floridawildlifecorridor.org/about/ [Accessed 23th March 2014].

European Commission, 2014, Green infrastructure, Available from:

http://biodiversity.europa.eu/topics/green-infrastructure [Accessed 23th March 2014].

European Commission, 2013, THE GUIDE TO MULTI-BENEFIT COHESION POLICY INVESTMENTS IN NATURE AND GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE, Available from:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/studies/pdf/guide_multi_benefit_nature.pdf [Accessed 23th March 2014].

Institute for European Environmental Policy, 2011, GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE IMPLEMENTATION AND EFFICIE, Available from:

http://www.ieep.eu/assets/898/Green_Infrastructure_Implementation_and_Efficiency.pdf [Accessed 23th March 2014].

Natural England, 2014, Green Infrastructure Guidance, Available from: http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/publication/35033 [Accessed 23th March 2014].

Forest Research, 2010, Benefits of green infrastructure

Bay Soundings, 2004, THE SOUTHWEST FLORIDA COASTAL CONSERVATION CORRIDOR PLAN: Creating a Wildlife Corridor, Available from:

http://baysoundings.com/legacy-archives/wint04/corridor.html [Accessed 23th March 2014].

Nature connected, 2014, The Old Rough Wildflower project, Available from: http://www.natureconnected.org/the-old-rough-wildflower-project/ [Accessed 23th March 2014].