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What is greenspace/green infrastructure (GI)?

Infrastructure can be defined as ‘the basic structures and facilities that are necessary for the efficient functioning of a given geographical area’.

Green infrastructure refers to ‘the network of different types of green spaces which together enable delivery of multiple benefits as goods and services’.

Green spaces are ‘any vegetated areas of land or water within or adjoining an urban area’.

Types of green infrastructure

  • Parks and gardens
  • Natural and semi-natural urban green spaces
  • Green corridors
  • Outdoor sports facilities
  • Amenity green space
  • Allotments, community gardens and city farms
  • Cemeteries and churchyards
  • Accessible countryside in urban fringe areas
  • Civic spaces.

Green infrastructure also includes some aspects of the marine and water environment – or ‘blue infrastructure’ – such as rivers, ponds and sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS).

Benefits of green infrastructure

The integration of high quality green infrastructure into the urban environment can provide a number of key benefits. These include:

  • Climate change adaptation/mitigation
  • Health, well-being and social cohesion
  • Economic growth and investment
  • Wildlife and habitats
  • Stronger communities.

These benefits can be achieved most successfully when planning and management take place to ensure green space is supplied in the right place at the right time.

A summary report that covers the benefits of green infrastructure has been written by Forest Research (2010), alongside a main report to Defra providing technical information:

Benefits of green infrastructure – summary report (PDF-2362K)

Benefits of green infrastructure – main report (PDF-1211K)

A collection of case studies and evidence notes that provide examples of successful planning of green infrastructure into the urban environment can be downloaded from the benefits of green infrastructure knowledge portal.

Numerous publications written by various organisations that contain information on, or relating to, the benefits of green infrastructure can also be found on the knowledge portal.

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