GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE AND URBAN BIODIVERSITY
The European Commission defines green infrastructure 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 and enhance biodiversity.” Green infrastructure exists in both urban and rural areas and provides numerous ecosystem services: clean water and air, food, recreational space. If parts of green infrastructure are well connected, they can be significant habitats and corridors for wild species that contribute to the delivery of ecosystem services.
ORCA helps local communities in the development and management of green infrastructure planning and management projects that contribute to the protection of wild species and improve the quality of life of people in urban and rural areas. Urban green infrastructure is critical to conserving urban biodiversity and ecosystem services.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Protection of species and their natural habitats
Numerous wild species have been able to adapt to urban conditions even in conditions of limited natural habitat. Green spaces in urban areas are home to a large number of wild species.
Conservation of ecosystem services
Green infrastructure in cities is important not only for the conservation of wild species and their habitats but also for human health. Green areas are a place where the population is happy to spend their free time. At the same time, green areas help reduce the effects of urban “heat island” and climate change and provide protection against noise and uncontrolled water outflow and floods.
Socio-economic development of local community
Green areas are the areas where local business development opportunities and job creation opportunities are created, based on the concepts of nature conservation and animal welfare.
The growing human population requires an ever-increasing expansion of urban areas and increases consumption of natural resources. The expansion of urban areas causes fragmentation or destruction of natural habitats, leading to the disappearance of biodiversity and related ecosystem services, on which both urban and rural populations depend. About 70% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050 (CBD).
Urbanization is one of the most significant factors in the global loss of biodiversity (Czech, 2000). Numerous studies have shown that both the diversity and the abundance of native plant and animal species is diminished precisely by the process of accelerated urbanization. Also, invasive species additionally put pressure on native species, often posing a threat to the health of the local population.
Numerous wild species, on the other hand, have been able to adapt to urban conditions even in conditions of limited natural habitat. Green infrastructure in cities plays a key role in supporting the survival of wild species and their habitats and helps to establish communication between different populations, thus maintaining the functionality of the ecosystem and its services.
The concept of green infrastructure integrates socio-economic and environmental benefits by enhancing the quality and quantity of ecosystems and their services in urban and rural areas. Green infrastructure in cities has a key role in supporting the survival of wild species and their natural habitats and it helps in establishing a relation between different populations, thereby maintaining the functionality of ecosystems and their services.
Responsibly and sustainably managed green areas can be home to a large number of wild species. Urban parks, green roofs, private gardens, lawns, individual trees, alleys, kindergartens and schools – all of these green areas are important parts of the “green habitat network” in urban areas.