Green Infrastructure Issue Areas: Biodiversity & Land Conservation

Biodiversity & Land Conservation:

Biodiversity and land conservation within a region can be measured by the number and variety of natural communities that exist together within a given area, such as urban forests, meadows and wetlands. A high degree of biodiversity is usually an indication of a sustainable community or region. There are several ways in which green infrastructure can be used to bolster biodiversity and land conservation within a region. Greenways, parks, urban forests, wetlands and vegetated swales are all forms of green infrastructure that provide wildlife habitat as well as recreational space. These natural systems provide important services, such as flood control, stormwater management and the filtration of pollutants. Parks provide community recreation space, social interaction and environmental education as well as improving air quality. According to the Conservation Fund’s report Green Infrastructure: Smart Conservation for the 21st Century, the loss of natural systems increases the risk of flooding and natural disasters, which costs communities billions in mitigation efforts and in disaster relief and recovery.

Incorporating green infrastructure into land-use planning and design, can help to support wildlife, strengthen a region’s ecosystem biodiversity and bolster public heath through increased access to recreational space. Green infrastructure integrated into urban design maintains habitat hubs and corridors, while also conserving the natural foundation on which livable and competitive communities and regions are built. For example, green infrastructure is instrumental in placemaking, a process through which the natural assets of a community are utilized and enhanced to create unique and livable communities. According to the Michigan State University’s Land Policy Institute, placemaking helps regions attract industries and skilled workers, stimulates economic development and increases the quality of life of community residents.  There are several examples of regional land conservation initiatives and placemaking: The Chicago Wilderness Biodiversity Conservation plan, The Twin Cities Minnesota Metro Greenways, Portland Oregon’s Metro Greenspace Program and the Northern Michigan Community Placemaking Guidebook. Information and links for these plans can be found in the resources below.

For more information about Federal Agencies that utilize green infrastructure techniques to improve biodiversity and land conservation, visit the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s green infrastructure toolkit webpages.

The organizations and reports referenced above and how green infrastructure relates to biodiversity and land conservation can be found in the following resources:

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