New Article Presents a Spatial Model for Prioritizing Green Infrastructure Locations

There is a lot of interest in green infrastructure in cities, which can refer to a variety of landscape elements like trees, swales, parks, and conservation areas, for fostering environmental quality, mitigating the urban heat island effect, and reducing stormwater runoff. However, there is a lack of methods for identifying which locations to prioritize for new green infrastructure that includes all these diverse benefits. As a result, initiatives like tree planting or urban greening often don’t align with the places of greatest need. A recent paper I published with four great collaborators addresses this problem by presenting a new spatial planning model that can be used at regional or community scales to plan for green infrastructure from a “multifunctional” point of view. Through two embedded case studies, we show how the method can be tailored for use within different planning settings as a flexible, collaborative tool. The paper is open access, and the abstract and link are below.

There is a growing interest in planning for green infrastructure, as well as a growing recognition of the multifunctional nature of green infrastructure, since it provides many social and environmental benefits to cities and regions. However, there is a lack of appropriate methods for prioritizing the locations for green infrastructure interventions. In response, this article proposes a spatial multi-criteria analysis for green infrastructure. We demonstrate the method at the regional scale for Southeast Michigan, as well as through two embedded case studies within this region. We show how the method can be adapted for rural parks and conservation planning, as well as for urban green infrastructure planning within the City of Detroit. Although lacking the analytical structure needed for some planning questions, and limited by data and access to appropriate technical skills, we argue the spatial planning approach strikes an appropriate balance between technical rigor and transparency required for collaborative planning practice. The described GIS-based analysis technique can be used as part of a planning process to identify locations for green infrastructure expansion or improvement in a way that acknowledges and balances their social and environmental benefits.

Regional green infrastructure priority map

Goodspeed, Robert, Ruoshui Liu, Dimitrios Gounaridis, Camilla Lizundia, and Joshua Newell. “A Regional Spatial Planning Model for Multifunctional Green Infrastructure.” Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science, (July 2021).

Author: Rob Goodspeed