Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

    ‘DESIGN WITH NATURE” FRAMEWORK FOR GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE: Nationwide document survey by Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies reveals that the green infrastructure state-of-the-art in the United States is now close to where British Columbia was in 2005

    How green infrastructure is defined guides the types of projects that local governments implement, with enduring impacts to people and the urban environment. “Ecology is not really being embedded in any planning practice, This realization turned my attention towards urban planning and this question, how do you embed ecosystem science and principles within landscape planning to conserve landscapes and landscape functioning quality? It resulted from me thinking about how the social processes shaping landscapes are inseparable from people’s relationship with nature,” Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski.

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    GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE CONTINUUM IS A METAPHOR FOR HOPE: “The state-of-the-art in the United States is now close to where British Columbia was in 2005. In the meantime, we have continued to progress and evolve our systems approach, and this is why the story of EAP is an essential read,” stated Kim Stephens when the Partnership for Water Sustainability released a downloadable resource introducing the ‘green infrastructure continuum’ as an organizing idea (February 2022)

    “We use the term ‘green infrastructure continuum’ to frame how green infrastructure understanding and the state-of-the-art around it are building on experience and evolving over time. The continuum idea provides context for milestones on the green infrastructure journey in British Columbia. The continuum idea is a metaphor for hope. It allows us to answer the question, how well are we doing? The green infrastructure continuum is the way we measure progress to achieve the Living Water Smart vision for creating liveable communities and protecting stream health,” stated Kim Stephens.

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    WHAT IS GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE, REALLY: “Cities are increasingly incorporating ideas for ‘green infrastructure’ into their planning, but what they mean by that can be unclear and inconsistent within and across cities,” wrote Maria Rachal, editor of Smart Cities Dive, in her article about recently published findings from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (January 2022)

    City planners often fail to clearly define “green infrastructure,” although they tend to favor hydrological or stormwater concepts in such projects, according to a study by the New York-based Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. The report calls for a clearer and more comprehensive definition as part of a larger project assessing equity in cities’ ecological services. The empirical study is the first of its kind. It is part of a multiyear project assessing green infrastructure’s role as “a universal good.”

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    TOWARD A MORE INCLUSIVE DEFINITION OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE: “Green infrastructure is broadly understood to be a good thing, but many city plans lack a clear definition of what it actually is. Hydrological definitions dominate. This narrow view can cause cities to miss out on vital social and ecological services that more integrative green infrastructure can provide,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, lead author of a nationwide analysis of GI plans from 20 American cities (January 2022)

    “City planning often fails to explicitly define “green infrastructure” (GI), but when it does, stormwater concepts of GI are much more prevalent than landscape or integrative concepts. Types of GI vary widely and significantly, and often exclude parks and larger urban green spaces in favor of smaller engineered facilities. Functions of GI are primarily hydrological, although more functional diversity is provided by landscape and integrative definitions of GI. Stormwater concepts appear to engage in greenwashing by purportedly offering the greatest number of benefits,” stated Dr. Zbigniew Grabowski.

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