Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by Ursula Bach

Indicators for urban green infrastructure

Urban Green Infrastructure (GI) is a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas, known as Green Urban Areas (GUAs). GUAs include all types of green space, from city parks, to rooftop gardens and tree-lined streets. It also includes natural features containing water, such as lakes, rivers, wetlands and coastlines, sometimes referred to as ‘blue space’.

To assist cities in developing their green infrastructure strategies further, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) has developed a number of GI indicators, displayed on their recently launched interactive map. Cities can use this map to see, for example, the proportion of green space in their urban areas and how well it is distributed throughout the city.

GI is an approach to urban planning that uses nature to perform important functions like flood management and air filtration. Research shows that proximity to green and blue space is good for our physical and mental health as it reduces our stress levels and provides space for outdoor activity. GI plays a key role in protecting biodiversity in our cities by linking up green and blue spaces, allowing wildlife to move from one habitat to another.

It is the numerous benefits of GI that has made it a key feature of EU environmental policy. Many cities across Europe have also made a concerted effort to include natural spaces into their urban planning.

The interactive map showing the ‘Share of Green Urban Areas’ indicator.

The interactive map showing the ‘Share of Green Urban Areas’ indicator.

Green urban areas incorporating sustainable land use’ is one of the 12 key indicators for the European Green Capital Award (EGCA). The majority of EGCA indicators, for instance, climate change, nature and biodiversity, air quality, the acoustic environment and water management, are also positively affected by GI.

The interactive map showing the ‘Distribution of Green Urban Areas’ indicator.

The interactive map showing the ‘Distribution of Green Urban Areas’ indicator.

Click here for more information on the EU Strategy for Green Infrastructure.