Ordnance Survey has launched a new, free map of all the publicly accessible green spaces in Great Britain. For the first time, we can find out how many public parks, gardens, playgrounds, playing fields, woods, allotments etc there are; where they are; how big they are. Not only will it help people find their nearest green space – and this was the Government’s motivation for undertaking the project - this data is vital for green space managers and a more detailed map, for local authorities, is available through OS Mastermap Greenspace. Historically, green space managers have lacked the basic data other asset managers take for granted: robust information about the location, type and quality of the assets under their control. This new, authoritative map is a significant first step – and could help strengthen the case for more public investment in green infrastructure. However, more data is needed. Until we have commonly accepted standards for the quality of green infrastructure it is difficult for managers to measure return on investment. Nevertheless, for anyone interested in understanding, valuing and improving the country’s green infrastructure, OS Open Greenspace is a welcome, and potentially very powerful, resource.
Putting Greenspaces on the map
Europe’s best Green Active Travel routes highlighted in new case studies
Five new green active travel case studies are available to download from the Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) website.
The case studies, which cover routes in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Belfast, Edinburgh and across the UK, offer a flavour of how active travel and green infrastructure can be integrated within different worldwide contexts.
Green active travel routes represent the deliberate choice to combine natural planting, greenery or water systems together with paths for people on foot or on bike.
These routes can be created by either adding new travel routes to existing infrastructure or by adding new green infrastructure to existing travel routes – or by integrating both from the start.
The addition of green infrastructure to active travel routes provides multiple benefits. These include flood mitigation, climate change adaption, increased biodiversity, connectivity and a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.
The case studies - available on the CSGN website - include examples of both newly integrated green active travel routes and those that have been the result of long-term masterplans.
The studies provide both inspiration and key learnings for others aspiring to implement their own green active travel routes.
The first of these case studies details the Copenhagen Green Cycle Routes programme. The ‘Grönne Cykelruter’, as it is known locally, work towards Copenhagen’s aim of becoming the world’s best cycling city and stems from almost a century of large-scale urban planning.
The city’s active travel network consists of over 58km of individual cycle routes which connect green parks, lakes, the harbour and university. The green routes have focused on the integration of quieter, greener, natural habitats with traffic-free active travel routes.
The next case study, the Connswater Community Greenway, provides an example of how community engagement and partnership working can create a community asset and leave a legacy for future generations.
Opened in April 2017, the greenway has become a living landmark for east Belfast, joining Belfast Lough to the Castlereagh Hills with a 9km wildlife corridor.
The greenway aims to create a vibrant and accessible space for community events, including key public spaces such as the C.S. Lewis Square, while improving the biodiversity of the city and reducing flooding for at risk residents.
The case study of the Little France Park development in Edinburgh demonstrates how to integrate active travel and green infrastructure from the outset as part of a master-planned project.
By providing connections for communities, commuters and hospital patients, Little France Park has formed an important part of the wider regional green network.
Another master-planned project, the Hamburg Grünes Netz, provides the inspiration for a further case study, available on the CSGN website.
The Hamburg Grünes Netz – or Green Network – is a city-wide urban masterplan based around green active travel, which aims to eliminate the need for cars in Hamburg over the next 20 years. Utilising a large-scale phased approach, the Hamburg Green Network aims to provide safe, pleasant, car-free routes that are accessible for all city residents.
Looking beyond the citywide scale of the other case studies, the Greener Greenways project aims to improve the biodiversity of 38 traffic-free walking and cycling routes in Scotland, England and Wales.
The initiative – managed by Sustrans - was designed to increase biodiversity by integrating green infrastructure with existing active travel corridors. The project also aims to improve the routes for the people who use them, with volunteers providing much of the groundwork.
The full suite of Green Active Travel Routes case studies is available to download here.
GROW GREEN: new partnership to demonstrate benefits of nature-based solutions in cities
Innovation will be the focus of GROW GREEN, which stands for "Green Cities for Climate and Water Resilience, Sustainable Economic Growth, Healthy Citizens and Environments." This new five-year demonstration project aims to achieve climate and water resilience in cities. Funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, it is intended to showcase benefits from nature-based solutions in urban landscapes.
The Sustainability of the Built Environment
UK Green Building Council is undertaking an ambitious project to help track the overall sustainability of the UK built environment. They are wanting to demonstrate the overall sustainability of the UK built environment in line with five priority areas:
- Mitigating and adapting to climate change
- Eliminating waste and maximising resource efficiency
- Embracing and restoring nature and promoting biodiversity
- Optimising the health and wellbeing of people
- Creating long-term value for society and improving quality of life
Celebrate Street Trees
We take trees for granted in our modern urban societies.
For decades, town and city planners have recognised the importance of nature and green spaces in urban areas. Many have planted trees in city centres, along motorways and residential streets. But in more recent times, local authorities have been forced into taking drastic measures to maintain essential public services and the environment and trees are suffering as a result.
Trees in urban areas are being neglected and removed to save money for other services. But whilst it can take hundreds of years for a tree to grow to maturity, when it does the benefits it provides are staggering and far outweigh maintenance costs.
We need to protect the trees we have and plan for the future
With funding from supporters of the People's Postcode Lottery, we're launching the Street Trees Project and working with communities, partners and local authorities in Leeds, Wrexham and Glasgow to promote good practice, good communication and appreciation for street trees.
There are, of course, some genuine conflicts between people and trees in the urban environment and we must absolutely address these sensibly but as far as our city trees are concerned, once they’re gone, they’re gone - along with all the benefits they provide.
Planting more trees is a big part of improving our urban spaces but it could be hundreds of years before we see the benefits and it doesn't help the street trees that may be threatened now.
The Street Trees Celebration Starter Kit
If you're in one of our pilot areas of Leeds, Wrexham or Glasgow, you can be the first to take part as we've created a Street Trees Celebration Starter Kit to help you build community relations, ensure that your trees are valued by everyone and celebrate these precious members of society.
The kit includes lots of great resources, advice and plenty of creative and impactful ways to get your urban community as well as local authorities thinking differently about street trees.
Find out more and apply for a Street Trees Celebration Starter Kit today