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Green infrastructure

Strategic green networks supporting life in cities and towns

For the practitioner

Looking to implement integrated, connected, multifunctional green infrastructure in a development or project, or across council areas?

Take a look at the extensive evidence and research on green infrastructure, the introductory video, case studies demonstrating how various types of green infrastructure were planned, designed and delivered, and publications, programs, policies, guidelines and implementation tools. We hope you find it all useful and share it with others too.

This video introduces the concept of green infrastructure, highlighting the First Creek Wetland at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Introduction to green infrastructure

Not just a pretty space

Green spaces, street trees and other plants beautify and improve the amenity of urban areas, as well as provide critical services such as clean air and water, and protection from flooding.

They also play an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation by sequestering carbon, reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing building energy use and emissions, and protecting people and property from extreme weather events such as heatwaves and storms.

Essential infrastructure

Green infrastructure is a vital part of the liveability, sustainability and resilience of our cities and towns, especially as people live closer together and as our climate changes.

A green network

Green infrastructure is a network of green spaces, street trees and other urban vegetation including wetlands, rain gardens, green walls and roofs. Green infrastructure includes:

  • natural areas such as national parks and conservation parks, watercourses, wetlands and coastal reserves
  • productive land, including community and market gardens, urban orchards and farms
  • public parks and gardens, including recreation parks, ovals and formal gardens
  • greenways, including along road, rail and tram corridors, high voltage power line corridors, and gas and water pipeline corridors
  • residential and other streets, comprising street verges and open space pockets
  • institutional, industrial and commercial grounds, airports, quarries and undeveloped land
  • private and semi-private parks and gardens (including golf courses, and courtyard, balcony, roof and community gardens)
  • squares and plazas
  • car parks
  • green walls and facades

Adding value

Green infrastructure is integrated, connected and multifunctional.

Integrated with development and other infrastructure, and is considered in urban strategies and plans, individual developments, and ongoing asset management plans.

Connected through links to existing and new green assets, it benefits people by enhancing recreation opportunities and benefits the environment by countering habitat fragmentation and improving ecosystem health.

Multifunctional through the delivery of multiple social, economic and environmental functions compared to conventional single-purpose infrastructure.

These functions and benefits include:

  • improved human physical, psychological and social health and wellbeing
  • enhanced liveability through improving amenity and air quality, and noise abatement
  • reduction of the urban heat island effect through shading and transpiration, and providing protection from extreme weather events such as heatwaves and storms
  • better water management, through reduced stormwater run-off and flooding, increased soil infiltration and groundwater recharge and improved water quality
  • healthy urban ecology – conserving, creating and linking, habitat for flora and fauna
  • local food production e.g. private, school kitchen, verge and community gardens and urban orchards and farms
  • broader economic benefits from enhanced commerce and property values, health care and energy savings, and ecosystem services

Just add water

Because plants need water and transpiration has a primary role in urban cooling, green infrastructure is ideally coupled with the retention of water in urban landscapes – a key consideration in water sensitive urban design.

Further information

Green infrastructure evidence base

This report contains a wide-ranging literature review, with an emphasis on peer-reviewed research from around the world, which provides compelling evidence for incorporating green infrastructure into urban areas.

Case studies

Additional resources

Image gallery