Green Infrastructure - Implementation and Efficiency
An IEEP-led consortium has completed a study for DG Environment on policy options to support the development of a ‘green infrastructure’ across Europe; a ‘network of natural and semi-natural areas, features and green spaces in rural and urban, terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine areas, which together enhance ecosystem health and resilience, contribute to biodiversity conservation and benefit human populations through the maintenance and enhancement of ecosystem services’. The overall aim of this study was to support the development of an EU-level Green Infrastructure Strategy by assessing how effective and efficient green infrastructure initiatives across the EU have been in terms of biodiversity and broader ecosystem services benefits.
The main current EU policy measures that support green infrastructure were identified and outlined. Extensive information was collated on the variety of green infrastructure initiatives and their implementation in all EU Member States, which was used to assess the contribution that green infrastructure makes to increasing the resilience of ecosystems and the provision of ecosystem services. These benefits were then compared with costs to provide an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of the initiatives. These assessments provided the basis to develop and evaluate the potential benefits of four different EU policy scenarios, ranging from a business as usual scenario (no new policy measures) to progressively more ambitious options including the integration of green infrastructure into sectoral policies and legislative measures.
The report provides evidence for the conditions that need to be fulfilled if the Green Infrastructure Strategy’s potential benefits are to be realised across many sectors and at multiple levels of governance. One of the main conclusions is that much could be achieved by the full implementation of existing legislation (eg the Habitats Directive) and other initiatives. Furthermore, although a new dedicated legal instrument for green infrastructure would probably achieve the most benefits, it remains uncertain whether it would be cost-effective.