Natural England - Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure

Green Infrastructure (GI) is a network of high quality green and blue spaces and other environmental features. It needs to be planned and delivered at all spatial scales from national to neighbourhood levels. The greatest benefits will be gained when it is designed and managed as a multifunctional resource capable of delivering a wide range of environmental and quality of life benefits (ecosystem services) for local communities.


Green Infrastructure includes parks, open spaces, playing fields, woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, river and canal corridors allotments and private gardens.

Why is Green Infrastructure important?

Green Infrastructure can provide many social, economic and environmental benefits close to where people live and work including:

  • Space and habitat for wildlife with access to nature for people
  • Places for outdoor relaxation and play
  • Climate change adaptation - for example flood alleviation and cooling urban heat islands
  • Environmental education
  • Local food production - in allotments, gardens and through agriculture
  • Improved health and well-being – lowering stress levels and providing opportunities for exercise

MEBIE - the Micro-Economic Benefits of Investment in the Environment Reviewexternal link provides an evidence summary of the benefits of Green Infrastructure. It is focussed around green infrastructure interventions and is structured using the Ecosystem Approach.

Green Infrastructure acts as catalyst to economic growth

Investment in Green Infrastructure (GI) acts as a catalyst to economic growth by:

  • Attracting inward investment - makes a local area more attractive to business investors
  • Attracting increased visitor spend - makes a local area more attractive to tourists and visitors
  • Saving environmental costs - improves air quality, reduces the urban heat island effect, filters diffuse pollution and helps to manage flood risk
  • Providing health benefits - impacts on health through improved air quality and surroundings which encourages activity and improves mental health and well-being
  • Generating employment - attracting new businesses and residents to the area, increasing office occupancy rates and increasing the number of jobs in the area
  • Promoting food production - enabling increased productivity in the city

The qualitative and quantitative evidence that demonstrates that green infrastructure acts as a catalyst to growth is gathered in the peer reviewed Defra / Natural England report: ‘GI as a Catalyst for Economic Growthexternal link’.

National biodiversity climate change vulnerability model

The National biodiversity climate change vulnerability model (NBCCVM) is a new map-based approach to help assess the vulnerability of priority habitats to climate change. The NBCCVM:

  • Indicates the relative vulnerability of priority habitat patches to climate change and guides interventions to increase their resilience
  • Can help prioritise action based on the principles of better management, bigger patches and joined up networks of habitat (Making Space for Natureexternal link, Lawton et al 2010)
  • Is an important evidence base to support green infrastructure and biodiversity strategy development and local plan policies that will help make places more resilient to climate change

For further information visit the NBCCVM web page.

Why is Natural England involved and how?

Natural England is supporting the concept of Green Infrastructure as a way to deliver a wide range of benefits for people, the economy and the natural environment together. We believe Green Infrastructure can be delivered via the spatial planning system, as an integral part of new development everywhere and alongside other infrastructure such as utilities and transport networks. It can also form a key part of proposals to regenerate existing urban areas.

Natural England’s Green Infrastructure reports and information

For your information, you can still view to our previous Green Infrastructure Guidanceexternal link. Please note that this refers to planning policies that have been surpassed by the National Planning Policy Framework.

For further information on Green Infrastructure please contact Tom Butterworth at