Investment in Green Infrastructure will promote sustainable growth: a lesson for the Budget on 20 March

Green Infrastructure describes all the forests, woods, parks, bridleways, commons, gardens and generally planted land that is not built on. All urban areas include some green infrastructure, which is essential to urban functioning and wellbeing but also has (economically) intangible benefits such as protecting biodiversity. The more progressive urban authorities are those that pro-actively plan and develop their green infrastructure, for example by connecting their areas together like a necklace so that wildlife can more easily move from one area to the next, in effect making and protecting green corridors. Closely related is blue infrastructure: the structures of and the connections between rivers, canals, lakes, ponds and similar water structures.
With the UK government due to announce its 2013/14 budget on 20 March 2013, there has been some significant press coverage about the need to increase capital spending on infrastructure. This is said to be needed to help create jobs, sustainable growth, and to help improve economic performance, and rightly so.
A significant amount of much-needed infrastructure will relate to the built environment – we need working sewers with clean water outflows; improved rail transport; flood defences; as well as delightful public plazas and squares. However, green infrastructure also creates jobs, also creates lasting public and community assets, as well as improving the sustainability of localities and the planet. There are also other economic benefits, the so-called Eco-System Services, which flow from a well-functioning natural environment. An example is where more street trees help with natural city summer cooling meaning in turn that less use of high-energy air conditioning equipment is needed. Green infrastructure also has a wider intrinsic value beyond the Eco-System Services calculation of proximate economic gains.
So, it is to be hoped that any UK improvement in infrastructure spending in the UK government budget for 2013 onwards includes the green as well as the grey. For jobs, communities and planet.

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