Green Infrastructure: Strategic Conservation for Hanover County

Successful land conservation in Hanover County needs to be:

More proactive and less reactive
More systematic and less haphazard
Multifunctional, not single purpose
Large scale, not small scale, and;
Better integrated with other efforts to manage growth and development.

The key to accomplishing this is “green infrastructure,” a framework that provides a strategic approach to land conservation. Just as Hanover needs to upgrade and plan its “gray” infrastructure (roads, sewers, utilities, etc.), it also needs to plan and develop its “green” infrastructure — a network of open space, woodlands, wildlife habitat, parks and other natural areas that sustain clean air, water, natural resources.

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE is an interconnected network of green space that conserves natural ecosystem values and functions and provides associated benefits to human populations. Green infrastructure is the ecological framework needed for environmental, social and economic sustainability. Green infrastructure differs from conventional approaches to open space planning because it looks at conservation values and actions in concert with land development, growth management and built infrastructure planning. Other conservation approaches are undertaken in isolation from — or even in opposition to — development.

The total funding devoted to land conservation is just a small fraction of what we spend on transportation and other infrastructure needs. Hanover needs to develop new sources of conservation capital, both public and private for conservation and rural preservation planning.

Green infrastructure is not a new idea. It is based upon planning and conservation efforts started 150 years ago and is rooted in two important concepts: (1) linking parks and other green spaces for the benefit of people, and (2) preserving and linking natural areas to benefit biodiversity and counter habitat fragmentation.

Green infrastructure represents the next generation of conservation action because it forges an important connection between land conservation and land use planning. Traditional land conservation and green infrastructure planning both focus on environmental restoration and preservation, but green infrastructure also concentrates on the pace, shape, and location of development and its relationship to important natural resources and amenities. Unlike more conventional conservation approaches, green infrastructure strategies actively seek to promote more efficient and sustainable land use and development patterns, as well as protect natural ecosystems.

Open space protection can no longer be viewed as a community amenity but rather a community necessity.

This information was excerpted from the

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