Green infrastructure planning entails inventorying green assets, identifying opportunities for their protection and/or restoration, and developing a coordinated strategy to channel development and redevelopment to the most appropriate locations.  Green infrastructure planning is not anti-development.  Rather it seeks to develop in the most appropriate places while conserving vital forests, farms, wildlife habitats and water resources that we all depend on for healthful lifestyles and strong economies. 

Green infrastructure planning entails inventorying green assets, such as large forests, farms, dunes or wetlands, and identifying opportunities for their protection and/or restoration through a coordinated strategy to channel development and redevelopment to the most appropriate locations. 

Green infrastructure planning is also linked to watershed planning, since land uses and development patterns are directly tied to water storage and quality.  Waterways, bays, and wetlands are critical components of “blue” infrastructure; they provide habitat links for fish and wildlife and they are included in green infrastructure planning.  Ground water resources are also part of green infrastructure.  River corridors and stream valleys often provide the only remaining green connections for wildlife to move across landscapes. Wetlands provide areas for water storage and ground water recharge, while also hosting many unique and rare species of plants and animals.  In coastal areas, wetlands provide shellfish grounds and nurseries for young fish. 

Since landscape conservation is often linked to the integrity and enjoyment of historic or cultural sites, assets such as battlefields or historic homes can also be included in the assessment inventory.  In some states, such as Maryland and Virginia, there are state models available that can be used as a starting point for developing regional or local plans.  See the GIC resources section for examples.


Simplified Steps for Green Infrastructure Planning.

Step 1: Set Goals – What does the community value?

Step 2: Data Review – What do we know and what do we need to know?

Step 3: Asset Mapping – Map the community’s ecological, cultural and economic assets. What is mapped is based on goals established in Step 1. Following are examples.

Step 4: Risk Assessment – Find out what’s at risk and what could be lost.

Step 5: Opportunities – Based on assets and risks, assess what can or should be saved? What could be restored? What will be developed? Engage the community in ranking key areas of importance. Map these opportunities and draft strategies to conserve them.

Step 6: Include strategies in local plans for parks, zoning, comprehensive planning, tourism development or recreational strategies. 
Green infrastructure plans can be fitted into existing city and county planning efforts and can compliment already-identified conservation goals.  Following are several examples of how green infrastructure assessments may be utilized:

Of course, green infrastructure is not limited to “natural” or pristine areas. Green infrastructure planning is often needed because of the challenges in seeking to add grey infrastructure and buildings while not obliterating the green.  In already developed areas, green assets can be reconnected through new corridors. Green infrastructure also can be restored by turning a brownfield into a forested site.  For example, in 2007, GIC staff completed a green infrastructure strategy for Charlottesville VA; a city which is highly urbanized. Trails, stream buffers, tree canopy and park enhancements were mapped and evaluated and strategies were developed to conserve and enhance them.

Finally, individuals can take care of their own green infrastructure such as planting trees along streams and shade trees for homes and streets and using less pavement so water can infiltrate and recharge aquifers, planting native species and establishing non-mowed areas, as well installing bird boxes and bat houses. For larger properties, landowners can consider whether they want to apply for a conservation easement. Farmers can ensure their forests and farms have a management plan that conserve both natural and economic resources.  For more ideas see the Resources section.

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