Green infrastructure as a starting point for spatial planning
In June 2018 we held the specialised workshop “Green infrastructure as a starting point for spatial planning”, thereby continuing the series of similar consultations with various actors with which we at RRA LUR are complementing the process of drafting the Strategy for the protection and development of green infrastructure in the Ljubljana Urban Region. With specialist stakeholders we discussed understanding of the role and functions of green infrastructure and criteria for incorporating various elements of green infrastructure into different levels of administration.
In terms of strengthening sustainable development and territorial cohesion, increasing weight is being given within the European Union to the concept of green infrastructure, which has developed out of the concept of nature conservation, although besides environmental aspect it emphasises the social and, in particular, economic aspects of planning green areas. Thus the concept of green infrastructure requires a deepening and widening of already adopted planning starting points and discussion of how to connect the concept with spatial and development planning at various levels of administration.
Participants at the workshop included experts and representatives of partners in various national and European projects and programmes: LOS_DAMA! (Interreg Alpine Region), UGB (Interreg Central Europe), AgriGo4Cities (Interreg Danube), GRETA (ESPON), EUSALP AG7 (EU Strategy for the Alpine Region) and spatial planners from LUZ d.d. and the Institute for Spatial Policies. They agreed that green infrastructure forms part of the content of numerous European projects and programmes in which various Slovene partners are participating, but that information on all projects and their goals is unfortunately not collected together in one place and publicly accessible. When discussing the role and functions of green infrastructure in the system of spatial regulation and management, participants drew attention above all to the multifunctional character of green areas as a key factor for maintaining current benefits and unlocking potential benefits in selected green areas.
Work during the practical part of the workshop took place separately by individual groups. The purpose of the workshop was to test criteria and standards for the insertion of elements of green infrastructure into various levels of planning and spatial management. The framework of the green infrastructure system at the European level is the Natura 2000 network. At the national level (and above all at lower levels), it was pointed out that this is not necessarily a suitable starting point, since Natura 2000 areas account for more than 37% of the total territory of Slovenia, while a quarter of municipalities in the country have more than half of their territory included in the network. At the regional level, suitable criteria for the planning of green infrastructure would include: multifunctionality, a connection or role in a broader system, size or extent and recognisability. Questions were raised about the starting points for planning and the current situation on the ground, in other words spatial planning potentials that could influence the future situation.