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Urban Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services

The Parliamentary Office for Science (POST) has published a brief overview of the ecosystem service contributions of urban biodiversity and green infrastructure. It also presents a number of possible planning strategies to secure implementation of green spaces. It can be downloaded here.

Rooftop garden to help new school’s pupils blossom!

An exciting new secondary school in Grangemouth has been built with a biodiverse roof garden that can be used by pupils and teachers for outdoor learning. This green roof is over 300m2 in size and will provide many benefits for wildlife and for people in the school and the surrounding area.

Carrongrange High School has been purpose built for the almost 170 pupils that have a range of support requirements. An important feature of the roof garden is that it has been designed so that pupils and teachers will be able to easily access different natural features.

The roof has a wide paved footpath that allows access for pupils in wheelchairs, and unique, hand-carved benches that allow pupils to sit at either end of the garden. There are a range of plants including the garden plants like Chives, Thrift and Heathers, and also a wildflower mat with a wide range of native species that are already providing important food for bumblebees!

This is the second green roof to be installed in Grangemouth, both through the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative ‘Glorious Green Roof’ project, which has been managed by Buglife, and is funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the EU LIFE programme. The first green roof was installed at a building owned by CalaChem in May 2016.

Not only will both green roofs act as stepping stones for wildlife, allowing the movement and mixing of individuals and species across Grangemouth, they will also improve cooling of the buildings in the summer and insulation in the winter, and increase the lifespan of the roof thus saving energy.

  

First analysis of UK green roof market published

The first review of the UK green roof market was launched at City Hall, London on July 26th 2017. Written by Neil Moulton and Dusty Gedge, the report shows that the green roof industry is in a healthy place. As importantly, there are also signs that it will continue to do so. The full report can be downloaded here.

Putting Greenspaces on the map

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.

Europe’s best Green Active Travel routes highlighted in new case studies

Copenhagen Green Cycle Route
Copenhagen Green Cycle Route

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