Building a green network

Nature reserves, walking and cycling routes, parks and street trees are all part of our Green Infrastructure (GI) – strategically planned networks of green areas across both urban and rural settings. GI provides a range of environmental, social and economic benefits from sustainable development to the provision of accessible open space, biodiversity, landscape and heritage conservation, microclimate control, public health and water management. These networks are also often seen as a way to offset the effects of housing and other development on local wildlife.Walkers and spring flowers at Thorpe Wood – this is a major Green Infrastructure site within Peterborough City, reflecting its importance as an ancient woodland and accessible green space © JNCC


A wide range of GI initiatives are underway across the UK, at a range of scales from local to regional, encompassing both urban areas as well as the wider countryside. In England, GI needs are being built into the strategic planning of national, regional and local planning authorities.


In providing advice to UK Government on European policy in this area, JNCC has undertaken a detailed assessment of a sample of GI strategies to understand how biodiversity interests have been accommodated and what GI might have to offer. Looking beyond the obvious amenity value, there is a need for the ecological effectiveness of GI networks to be assessed.


From a biodiversity perspective, GI could play an important role in contributing to the conservation and improvement of existing habitats, enhancing opportunities for species movement and habitat creation, offsetting the impacts of new development, and mitigating climate change.  However, the potential of GI networks very much depends on how they are designed, implemented and managed over time, and how assessment of existing biodiversity features is undertaken. GI needs to be integrated into all new development as an indispensable complement to traditional infrastructure such as utilities and transport networks.


Contact File


Ed Mountford

Conservation Advice Team

Tel: +44 (0)1733 866917


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