Green Infrastructure

Regional Councils plan much of their regions landcare and natural resource development strategies, in both rural and urban regions. This section of the website will discuss many topics surrounding environmental planning of natural space and its interrelationships and interactions with other issues.

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green Infrastructure is our Nation’s natural life support system – an interconnected network of protected land and water that supports native species, maintains natural ecological processes, sustains air and water resources and contributes to the health and quality of life for America’s communities and people.

Why Green Infrastructure?

Most land and water conservation initiatives in the United States are reactive not proactive; haphazard not systematic; piecemeal not holistic; single-scale not multi-scale, single-purpose not multi-functional. Current conservation efforts often focus on individual pieces of land, limiting their conservation benefits to the environment and human health. Identifying and planning for Green Infrastructure – multi-purpose green space networks – provides a framework for smart conservation and smart growth.

A city, county or state would never build a road, water and electrical system piece by piece, without any advanced planning or coordination between different system components and jurisdictions. These built infrastructure systems are planned, designed and invested in far in advance of their actual use. We should plan, design and invest in our Green Infrastructure following the same principles and approaches that are used for built infrastructure.  A large coalition of public and private organizations are advancing the concept of Green Infrastructure nationwide, and NARC is doing its part to promote these concepts and enrich green infrastructure data, collection and planning.

Green Infrastructure Tool

NARC’s online tool, “A Roadmap to Green Infrastructure in the Federal Agencies,” was created as part of NARC’s partnership with Virginia Tech on the Green Infrastructure Assessment grant, funded by the US Forest Service’s National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council. This tool will assist local government, regional councils and their communities to better understand how each federal agency defines, implements and funds green infrastructure. Through this Roadmap, NARC hopes to facilitate regions’ understanding of the numerous benefits of green infrastructure and the ways in which it can be funded and implemented in their communities.


Green Infrastructure Projects

Urban and Community Forestry FrameworkNARC and Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability are creating a Framework to support regional councils and metropolitan planning organizations into catalyzing and brokering cross sector partnerships and facilitate processes for more collaborative development of robust green infrastructure programs, policies and initiatives that include urban forests as a central element. This Framework, sponsored by the U.S Forest Service, will assist regional councils in developing a green infrastructure system, which incorporates urban forestry as an avenue to achieving goals of livability and creating vibrant communities. For more information on this project, contact Mia Colson 

Green Infrastructure Assessment: In 2012, NARC partnered with Virginia Tech University on a project funded by the U.S. Forest Service’s National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost-Share Grant Program. The project, Green Infrastructure Assessment: Mapping and Evaluating the Support System for Green Infrastructure Planning in the United States conducted a comprehensive assessment of the institutional support system for green infrastructure planning and implementation in the United States. Through this assessment, NARC and Virginia Tech identified successful practices and provided recommendations for potential areas for federal agency coordination that will improve the institutional support system for this important work. While the project gathered information from all government levels, NARC focused on the multi-jurisdictional regional scale where natural systems extend beyond the boundaries of a single local jurisdiction and natural resource, transportation and economic development planning all occur at the regional level. For more information, check out the Reports section.

Get Involved!

NARC’s Regional Green Infrastructure Working Group is a forum for regional green infrastructure practitioners to exchange best practices and an opportunity for NARC to communicate innovations in the field to its membership. The Working Group provides information about opportunities to participate in listening sessions, share regional green infrastructure plans and offer expertise to other practitioners.

Contact Mia Colson, or 202.618.6360, with questions.

Copyright © 2013 National Association of Regional Councils