As part of its post-2010 biodiversity policy, the European Commission has been developing a strategy for an EU-wide Green Infrastructure (GI). In May 2013, the Commission published a Communication on Green Infrastructure in which it defined the European Green Belt initiative as an EU-level GI-project.
What is "Green Infrastructure"?
Europe is a relatively densely populated continent. Much of the land is intensively used, meaning that the European landscape has faced more habitat loss and fragmentation than in other regions in the world. The idea of "green infrastructure" (GI) is to reconnect existing nature areas and improve the overall ecological quality of the broader countryside and urban areas while continuing to deliver valuable services to society (fresh water, clean air, healthy soil etc.). The aim of GI is to be a network of high-quality green and blue spaces and other environmental features - a multifunctional resource capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality-of-life benefits (ecosystem services) for people and nature. This includes natural and semi-natural areas, features and green spaces – anything from large wilderness areas to green rooftops – in rural and urban, terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine areas. GI can provide many social, economic and environmental benefits, including:
- Space and habitat for wildlife, with access to nature for people
- Places for outdoor relaxation
- Climate-change adaptation - for example, flood alleviation and the cooling of urban heat islands
- Environmental education
- Local food production
- Improved health and well-being
GI serves the interests of both people and nature. It addresses the spatial structure of natural and semi-natural areas and of other environmental features that provide people with multiple beneficial services.