LIFE-GREEN4GREY - Innovative design & development of multifunctional green & blue infrastructure in Flanders grey peri-urban landscapes

LIFE13 ENV/BE/000212

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Pieter DE CORTE
Email: pieter.decorte@vlm.be

Project description:


In Europe, approximately 75% of the population lives in urban areas and this is expected to increase to around 80% by 2020. Every day, open space continues to be converted into housing, commercial and industrial buildings, and infrastructure such as roads, railways and airports. In Flanders, open space loss amounts to seven hectares/day, one of the highest rates in the European Union. These grey infrastructure elements have made Flanders the most fragmented and second most sealed EU region (after Malta). Long-term projections for Flanders (up to 2030) indicate that urban sprawl and grey infrastructure expansion is likely to increase by 17%.

The impacts of urban sprawl on peri-urban landscapes in Flanders and Europe include: a) Loss of natural habitats for species; b) Lack of natural water retention areas; c) Negative impacts on water quality; d) Negative impacts on human health, mental/physical wellbeing, recreation, social interaction; and e) Impacts in terms of climate adaptation.


The project will demonstrate the innovative development and design of multifunctional green and blue infrastructure (GI&BI) elements in peri-urban areas. These elements will deliver multiple ecosystem services and functions for many different interested parties. The seven densely-populated pilot areas covered by the project are part of the peri-urban areas of Brussels and Hasselt-Genk.

The investment in GI&BI in these areas will stimulate an integrated and multifunctional approach to the environmental and health problems linked to unsustainable urban sprawl and the greying of artificial peri-urban landscapes.

This integrated, multifunctional method of building GI&BI in densely populated peri-urban areas (such as Flanders) will be a major contribution to the implementation of the EU's Green Infrastructure Strategy in EU peri-urban areas.

Specific objectives are as follows: 1. To upgrade green & blue infrastructure elements in seven densely populated peri-urban areas to transform grey infrastructure (former artificial, mining or intensive agricultural areas) into multifunctional greener/biodiversity-friendly landscapes; 2. To develop and use innovative approaches to ecosystem-based multifunctional land use at all seven sites. This will include biodiversity/habitat improvement, water quantity-quality, health and wellbeing, socio-cultural “green” business environment, climate adaptation, sustainable food production and education; 3. To involve the private sector in the design of green infrastructure and to promote the multiple benefits of investment in green infrastructure for businesses and business sites; 4. To use participative approaches for green and blue infrastructure design involving inhabitants, employees, students, policymakers, NGOs and experts, and to promote citizen responsibility to help create and increase knowledge about the need for long-term maintenance; and 5. To make recommendations and transfer knowledge at local, regional and EU levels about the importance and benefits of green and blue infrastructure for EU peri-urban areas.

Expected results: 1. Peri-urban biodiversity/habitats Water

  • Increased/optimised water levels and improved conditions for tree frog and other amphibians;
  • Seven ponds and six pools restored and three ecological transformations of artificial basins; and
  • Three restored water courses, six natural retention zones and one natural stream valley.
  • Land

  • Four ha peri-urban forest and four ha natural grassland created, hundreds of trees and bushes planted, one km hedgerows/tree rows planted, three ha of fruit and cherry orchards created, on former agricultural land; and
  • An 11ha upgraded habitat area (including private gardens) for the tree frog.
  • 2. Water quantity regulation

  • Several housing districts protected from flooding; and
  • Three km of new natural meandering water course/valley and six natural water retention areas.
  • 3. Health and wellbeing/recreation

  • Up to seven km hiking paths established, six meeting areas in attractive and green landscapes; and
  • One “greener” neighbourhood and five “greener” living environments.
  • 4. “Green” business/working environment

  • Two improved ecological areas surrounding business sites; and
  • 10% of the total area of a business site designed in a more ecological way
  • ;
  • Stakeholder and design workshops on GI&BI with employees, business site owners, inhabitants, experts, local policy makers and students;
  • Two action plans for larger peri-urban valley systems; and
  • An expert group to promote new GI&BI initiatives in other EU peri-urban regions.



Environmental issues addressed:


Land-use & Planning - Green infrastructure
Water - River basin management
Biodiversity issues - Urban biodiversity
Information - Governance - Public and Stakeholders participation


land use planning‚  urban development‚  biodiversity‚  periurban space‚  urban area‚  urban planning‚  rural area‚  green space

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Vlaamse Landmaatschappij (Flemish Land Agency)
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description The Flemish Land Agency (VLM), a Flemish government agency, is responsible for the organisation and management of open space in peri-urban Flanders. It also contributes to rural policy in Flanders.
Partners None


Project reference LIFE13 ENV/BE/000212
Duration 01-JUL-2014 to 30-JUN -2019
Total budget 4,352,355.00 €
EU contribution 1,671,415.00 €
Project location Vlaams Gewest(België - Belgique)


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Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version