We need to develop, preserve and enhance healthy green infrastructure to help stop the loss of biodiversity and enable ecosystems to deliver their many services to people and nature. The greater the scale, coherence and connectivity of the green infrastructure network, the greater its benefits. The EU Strategy on green infrastructure aims to outline how to deploy such a network and encourages action at all levels.
Developing green infrastructure is a key step towards the success of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. The Strategy's target 2 requires that 'by 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15% of degraded ecosystems'. But green infrastructure contributes to all 6 targets of the Strategy - in particular the full implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directive (target 1) and to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity in the wider countryside and the marine environment (targets 3 and 4).
On 6 May 2013, the Commission adopted an EU-wide strategy promoting investments in green infrastructure, to restore the health of ecosystems, ensure that natural areas remain connected together, and allow species to thrive across their entire natural habitat, so that nature keeps on delivering its many benefits to us. The strategy promotes the deployment of green infrastructure across Europe as well as the development of a Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure in Europe, a so-called TEN-G, equivalent to the existing networks for transport, energy and ICT. This can also help enhance the health and wellbeing of EU citizens, provide jobs, and boost our economy.
Other EU institutions have expressed their support:
The Green Infrastructure Strategy is supported by other actions under target 2 of the Biodiversity Strategy, such as work underway to establish a Restoration Prioritization Framework (RPF) (action 6a) or on biodiversity-proofing the EU budget (action 7a). MAES, the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (Action 5) will help provide an accurate valuation of the benefits that nature provides to human society, so that investments in green infrastructure can be measured. As for NNL, or No-Net-Loss (Action 7b), it develops an initiative to ensure that there is no net loss of ecosystems and their services e.g. through compensation or offsetting schemes.
The documents produced by the working group on green infrastructure implementation and restoration can support national and regional planners and decision-makers working on green infrastructure.