Basic Principles

  1. Green infrastructure should provide the framework for conservation and development.

    In the past we practiced conservation by establishing isolated parks and natural areas that were primarily selected based upon small populations of rare and endangered species. More often than not, these areas are too small to maintain the ecosystem functions required to sustain these populations. By integrating conservation planning with development planning, we can identify lands which are the best for development and lands that are the best for providing natural resource protection through interconnections of green infrastructure with various degrees of gray and developed areas. This interspersion of green and gray infrastructures allow communities to take advantage of the natural amenities that come from working landscapes and natural areas which can reduce the cost of highly engineered alternatives.

  2. Design and plan green and gray infrastructure before development occurs.

    Restoration of natural systems is much more expensive than the protection of landscapes. If we integrate natural system protection with the building of roads, sewers, waterlines and utilities, we can keep the cost of providing services down and thus lower tax burdens. We can also better direct development in our communities.

  3. Connectivity is critical. Green infrastructure must be thought of as an interconnected network of lands.

    Large parcels are connected by corridors which can be used for recreation and transportation of people as well as allow the movement of water and wildlife through the landscape.

  4. Green infrastructure provides benefits across multiple scales and does not follow political boundaries.

    Just as highways and power grids provide services across the nation, green infrastructure provides services over large regional areas and the benefits are provided to all regional participants. Green infrastructure provides linkages between urban, surburban and rural settings and allows for building connectivity between communities.

  5. Green infrastructure planning requires all levels of government and private land owners are critical to planning and implementation.

    Any successful planning process will require input from all stakeholders. Green infrastructure planning like gray infrastructure planning requires public participation and input from the conception of the planning process to the implementation process. It is also critical to involve landowners whose lands are the working landscapes, farmers, forest land owners and developers.

  6. Green infrastructure is based upon science and data that must be brought into land use planning practices.

    Green infrastructure protects water resources, habitat, air quality, and other critical ecosystem functions. Therefore, it requires information from professionals in conservation biology, landscape ecology, urban and regional planning, landscape architecture, engineering, and economics to provide the best information and approaches to protecting, enhancing and restoring natural systems.

  7. Green infrastructure will require public investment.

    Just as we invest in our water and sewer systems, green infrastructure will require public money to provide their services. For example, public funds might be used to purchase floodplains which can be used as part of a cities stormwater infrastructure.