Sustainable Tourism

Design methodology for green infrastructure

The European Wilderness Society launched its large scale connectivity initiative, the Pan European Green corridor network (PEGnet) at the end of last year. We are now discussing with UNEP to showcase this initiative within the UNEP-WCMC new 3-year connectivity programme.

While discussing how to expand PEGnet throughout Europe’s mountain ranges from the Cantabrian mountains to the Carpathians, we suddently got a brilliant new tool to identify and map the parts of a continent wide mountain connectivity project which is linked to the green infrastructure suggested by the European Commission.

The European Commission communication (2013) on green infrastructure (GI) sets the ground for a tool that aims to provide ecological, economic and social benefits through natural solutions, helping us to mobilise investments that sustain and enhance those benefits. This vision pursues the use of natural solutions (considered multi-functional and more sustainable economically and socially) in contrast with grey infrastructure (that typically only fulfils single functions such as drainage or transport). In the EC communication, GI is defined as a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services. This definition includes three important aspects: the idea of a network of areas, the component of planning and management, and the concept of ecosystem services. In this sense, GI integrates the notions of ecological connectivity, conservation and multi-functionality of ecosystems.

In their paper the researchers propose a methodology that can be used to identify and map GI elements at landscape level based on the notions of ecological connectivity, multi-functionality of ecosystems and maximisation of benefits both for humans and for natural conservation. The approach implies, first, the quantification and mapping of the natural capacity to deliver ecosystem services and, secondly, the identification of core habitats and wildlife corridors for biota. All this information is integrated and finally classified in a two-level GI network. The methodology is replicable and flexible (it can be tailored to the objectives and priorities of the practitioners); and it can be used at different spatial scales for research, planning or policy implementation.

The research is available here.

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