Planning for
our life support system

All over America, communities plan for and invest in the gray infrastructure of roads, utility lines, communications and water systems, and the social infrastructure of schools, hospitals, and libraries. But there is another infrastructure system that needs to be planned for and invested in first green infrastructure, America's natural life support system.

Green infrastructure is an interconnected network of conserved natural areas and features (including wetlands, woodlands, waterways, and wildlife habitat), public and private conservation lands (including nature preserves, landscape linkages, wildlife corridors, and wilderness areas), private working lands of conservation value (including forests, farms, and ranches) and other protected open spaces (including greenways and parks). It is green space that serves multiple purposes and is strategically planned and managed at the local, regional, and state levels. Green infrastructure supports native species and habitats, maintains natural ecological processes and functions, sustains air and water resources, and contributes to the health and quality of life of America's communities and people.

Green infrastructure planning links the needs for green and gray infrastructure in a more effective, economical, and livable network than would otherwise occur. It ensures that green space and gray space are placed where most needed and most appropriate. In a rural landscape, it identifies vital ecological areas and linkages in advance of growth and development. In built environments, it identifies opportunities for the restoration and enhancement of naturally functioning systems.

A city, county, or state would never build a road, water, or electrical system piece by piece, or engage in redevelopment without advance planning, assurances of public financing, or coordination among different system components and jurisdictions. It is time to do the same for green space.

Mark Benedict,
The Conservation Fund
(from the American Planning Associations
October 2000 PAS Memo)



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EcoCity Cleveland
3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2003

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