The Role of Green Infrastructure in Biodiversity

Wetland adjacent to houses

Biodiversity is essential to thriving communities, yet, we are losing biodiversity at alarming rates. Green infrastructure is a way to protect, maintain and increase the biodiversity in our urban landscapes and is one which requires a considered planning and design approach. 

We wrote about green infrastructure here, but as we shared, there’s no real clear definition. The description most aligned to the Orterra philosophy is this one created by the European Commission:

“Green infrastructure is 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 such as water purification, air quality, space for recreation, and climate mitigation and adaptation.”

From our perspective, this involves aligning green infrastructure (and blue, which is a topic for another post) to the principles of Water Sensitive Urban Design when we begin a project. We take into account the role of green infrastructure in creating, retaining and improving what we already have, or designing for what we need from a biodiversity perspective. 

Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash

Side note: while green infrastructure plays a part in water management and biodiversity it also promotes liveability as well as a range of social, environmental and economical benefits to urban communities. It increases the environmental awareness and consciousness of urban people, those humans using spaces.  There’s also the cooling benefits and better air quality that comes from a design approach with green infrastructure at the crux of things. 

Green infrastructure:

  • Regulates air quality
  • Protects against erosion
  • Maintains soil health
  • Regulates water flow 
  • Enables pollination 
  • Manages the purification of water 

When we’re designing through a lens of green infrastructure we are looking at how we can better manage water quality and flow management. Our goal is to connect habitats, reduce erosion, protect waterways and enable biodiversity. We’re looking at minimising run off through strategies such as passive irrigation and natural hydrology. This also extends the lifespan of grey infrastructure by lightening the load, so to speak. 

Put simply, green infrastructure improves biodiversity because it allows for or enables habitat creation, improvement and maintenance. It’s such a buzz (get it, get it) to see rooftop veggie gardens complete with operational bee hives in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, a surprisingly bee-friendly space

It also allows for corridors of connected biodiversity, where large developments and projects create ‘superhighways’ for animal, bird and insects to traverse. 

Talk to us today!

So, getting down to details, what actually is green infrastructure? It’s a slippery concept to define, but basically, it’s a way to preserve, protect and extend our basic ecosystem functions and create sustainable urban environments that promote biodiversity. It’s the heart of every design that leaves the Orterra studio! Would you like to know more about how we design with green infrastructure at the heart? Please reach out; Debbie, our founding Director and Lead Landscape Architect would love to have a chat!