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Green Infrastructure is a concept originating in the United States in the mid-1990's that highlights the importance of the natural environment in decisions about land use planning. In particular there is an emphasis on the "life support" functions provided by the natural environment for example; clean water and healthy soils, as well as the more anthropocentric functions such as recreation and providing shade and shelter in and around our towns and cities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the concept to apply to the management of stormwater runoff at the local level through the use of natural systems, or engineered systems that mimic natural systems, to treat polluted runoff.
Additional recommended knowledge
The Green Infrastructure approach analyses the natural environment in a way that highlights its function and subsequently seeks to put in place, through regulatory or planning policy, mechanisms that safeguard critical natural areas. Where life support functions are found to be lacking, plans may propose how these can be put in place through landscaped and/or engineered improvements.
The term "green infrastructure" is sometimes expanded to "multifunctional" green infrastructure. Multifunctionality in this context refers to the integration and interaction of different functions or activities on the same piece of land. This is key to the efficient and sustainable use of land, especially in a small and crowded country like England where pressures on land are particularly acute. An example might be an urban edge river flood plain which provides a repository for flood waters, acts as a nature reserve, provides a recreational green space and could also be productively farmed (probably through grazing).
In the United Kingdom, Green Infrastructure planning is increasingly recognised as a valuable approach for spatial planning and is now seen in national, regional and local planning and policy documents and strategies, for example in the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Growth area. 
In North West England the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy  has a specific Green Infrastructure Policy (EM3 - Green Infrastucture) as well as other references to the concept in other land use development policies (e.g. DP6). The policy is supported by the North West Green Infrastructure Guide (September 2007). The Green Infrastructure Think Tank (GrITT) provides the support for policy development in the region and manages the web site that acts as a repository for information on Green Infrastructure.
The continued development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their increasing level of use is particularly important in the development of Green Infrastructure plans. The plans frequently are based on GIS anaysis of many layers of geographic information.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Green_infrastructure". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|