There is no single agreed definition of the term ‘green network’.
The draft Scottish Planning Policy document defines green networks as “connected areas of green infrastructure and open space that together form an integrated and multi-functional network”. SNH define green networks as “a broad term which usually refers to a set of connected areas of green space and habitats such as parks, paths and woodlands within an urban or suburban region which provide a range of social, ecological and economic benefits such as increasing the quality of life within an area, and creating
The definition used by Glasgow City Council provides a useful reference point for development planning:
"The linking together of natural, semi‐natural and man‐made open spaces (which may include leisure or recreational facilities) to create an interconnected network that provides opportunities for physical activity, increases accessibility within settlements and to the surrounding countryside while enhancing biodiversity and the quality of the external environment".
Well-planned and well-designed green networks can create attractive settings for daily life, distinctive local identities for places and can help guide future settlement growth. High-quality green networks can also greatly enhance the perceived value of areas, being attractive to both businesses and homebuyers, to whom they may offer easy access to civic spaces, parks, playgrounds, and natural open space. Green networks can also deliver a wide range of other benefits: improving health and well-being, enhancing bio-diversity, helping to mitigate against climate change, providing business and educational opportunities, encouraging tourism and promoting sustainable use of scarce land resources. Therefore, green networks are not an isolated or solely an environmental concern but can help deliver better, more sustainable places and address the core purposes of development planning: by forming an integral, cross cutting and spatially defined component of economic, social and environmental change in any particular area.
The Central Scotland Green Network is a national development in NPF3, which describes it as: "A strategic network of woodland and other habitats, active travel routes, greenspace links, watercourses and waterways, providing an enhanced setting for development and other land uses and improved opportunities for outdoor recreation and cultural activity".
In a Scottish context a National Ecological Network would aim to ensure all levels of government, NGOs, landowners and managers coordinate actions to protect and enhance the natural environment, be it at a local or national scale. As well as safeguarding Scotland’s natural capital, an NEN is a means of effectively and sustainably directing the numerous on the ground initiatives that are already happening and marrying them with high level policies with the aim of achieving greater total overall gain for stakeholders. A Scottish NEN would bring a level of strategic planning for the natural environment more commonly associated with major infrastructure projects - thereby placing the same importance on planning for ‘green’ (and blue) infrastructure as is done when for planning for ‘grey’ infrastructure.