Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities

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Online Collections. Need Help? YouTube Channel. Available from another library. Quick Copy View. B46 Place Hold. Add To List. With illustrative and detailed examples drawn from throughout the country, Green Infrastructure advances smart land conservation: large scale thinking and integrated action to plan, protect and manage our natural and restored lands.

From the individual parcel to the multi-state region, Green Infrastructure helps each of us look at the landscape in relation to the many uses it could serve, for nature and people, and determine which use makes the most sense. In this wide-ranging primer, leading experts in the field provide a detailed how-to for planners, designers, landscape architects, and citizen activists.

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See Full Copy Details. Available Online. Ebsco Academic CMC. Online Hoopla Collection. Access Online. Date Source Phys Desc. More Info Access Online. As a process, the approach provides a mechanism for diverse interests to come together to identify priority lands for protection. Green infrastructure provides a framework that can be used to guide future growth and future land development and land conservation decisions to accommodate population growth and protect and preserve community assets and natural resources.

Green Infrastructure Improves Communities

Taking a green infrastructure approach facilitates systematic and strategic conservation activities, adds value to project results, and provides predictability and certainty for both conservationists and developers. In areas anticipating growth, a green infrastructure plan can pre-identify key lands for future conservation and restoration efforts and help shape the pattern and location of future growth. Green infrastructure uses planning, design, and implementation approaches similar to those used for roads, water management systems, and other community support facilities.

The approach can be applied at multiple scales e. Green infrastructure also provides a strong rationale for funding green space conservation and management. Just as roads, sewer systems, hospitals, and other aspects of the built or gray infrastructure provide for the critical needs of communities, green infrastructure is integral to a community's health and viability.

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Green Infrastructure Definitions - Interreg

Like gray infrastructure, green infrastructure has evolved to meet specific needs that have resulted from growth see Table 1. The first European explorers who saw the New World wrote poetically about its vast wilderness. Land was plentiful; the challenge was to tame it, to make way for towns, roads, and farms. Americans today experience a far different landscape from that seen by these explorers. Wilderness and natural areas are no longer plentiful; in fact, they have become scarce. Less than 10 percent of the land in the United States remains in a wild state, and only 4 percent has been set aside in nature reserves.

While previous generations of Americans had the foresight to protect some of America's most beautiful and vital landscapes, our public lands have proven to be inadequate to meet the needs of both people and wildlife. The conditions that existed when the National Park Service and other resource agencies were founded have changed dramatically, but the assumptions that guide our land conservation decisions remain stuck in the past. The rural lands that once surrounded public lands are fast disappearing.

National and state parks and wildlife refuges are becoming ecological islands in an increasingly fragmented landscape. Population growth and development in communities that serve as gateways to public lands are creating problems for many pristine and protected lands. Many public lands lack the capacity to handle the increasing number of visitors seeking to connect with nature. Population growth also means more cars, which means more roads, which in turn produces more air pollution, water pollution, and noise.

Road construction often means the loss of natural areas, the obstruction of critical wildlife migration routes, and the erosion of historic and natural landscapes. In the last fifty years, the amount of urban land in the United States quadrupled. Between and , about 34 million acres—an area the size of Illinois—were converted to developed uses see Table 1. Between and , almost 9 million acres were developed, of which 46 percent had been forestland, 20 percent cropland, and 16 percent pasture see Table 1.

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Much that has been developed for houses, stores, offices, and parking lots was once productive working lands—the farms and forests on the outskirts of America's cities, towns, and suburbs. From to , an average of , acres per year of nonfederal forest land, most of which is private, were converted to developed uses, but the rate of conversion "jumped to 1 million acres per year during the last five years of this period" and is expected to continue to increase exponentially in many parts of the country.

Because farmland is relatively flat and has rich soils for building—as well as plowing—it is particularly at risk for development.


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Between and , the United States witnessed the loss of more than 6 million acres of prime farmland, which accounts for approximately 28 percent of the land developed during this time. Today, almost 2 million acres of farmland and , acres of private forestland is lost to development each year. The American Farmland Trust warns that America is losing over seventy-four acres of prime farmland every hour of every day and that 86 percent of America's fruit and vegetables and 63 percent of our dairy products come from farmland that is directly in the path of development.

Moreover, the USDA indicates that Private forests provide over 90 percent of the nation's timber harvests and nearly 30 percent of our freshwater resources; they are critical to water quality and to the survival of many fish and wildlife resources. The conversion of private forestland may be particularly significant in the Southeast, considered the "wood basket" of the United States and an area rich in biodiversity.

Perhaps more alarming than the total number of acres being developed is the escalating rate of land consumption.

Green infrastructure linking landscapes and communities pdf

Between and , land was converted at a rate of 2. Today's rates are estimated to be even higher. The population of the United States is growing. Don't we need houses and commercial areas to support this population growth? But the rate of open space conversion exceeds population growth. From to , the nation experienced a 47 percent increase in urbanized land, despite the fact that population grew only 17 percent see Table 1. The situation is often most evident in urban areas. Between and populations of metropolitan areas grew by 50 percent, while developed land area increased by percent.

From to , Cook County and the five other counties closest to Chicago experienced a 35 percent increase in developed land, but population increased by only 4 percent. From to , the population of the New York City metropolitan area increased 8 percent while its urban area increased by 65 percent; and the Cleveland metropolitan area increased 33 percent while it experienced an 11 percent decrease in its population. Census figures show the average size of the nation's one hundred most populated cities is about square miles, more than triple the size in Much of this increase has come as cities have annexed the farms and open space around them to convert to housing developments and strip shopping centers.

But rapid development—and the sprawl associated with it—is not only an urban problem.