Natural Infrastructure Planning
You have your stakeholders engaged. As part of the stakeholder formation, a mission and overarching goals may have been identified and will help guide the process. A good first step is to begin by inventorying and mapping existing and potential conditions that will support (or detract from) natural infrastructure planning including natural resources, social and economic resources of your planning area. Below are examples of the kind of information you may need for your natural infrastructure plan:
- Existing and proposed greenways and connections
- Landscape types within the planning area (state, county, watershed....)
- State/local enabling ordinances and regulations that affect land and resource use and development
- Existing/proposed land use/land cover maps, development designs, other visual articulations of natural infrastructure
- Existing projects, programs, plans that relate to and fit into the natural infrastructure concept
The Green Communities 5-step planning process includes a trends analyses as part of a comprehensive process. When considering a natural infrastructure plan, the stakeholders may wish to focus on looking at trends in population growth and development, for example. Creating a probable scenario which identifies those corridors, hubs, and linkages at risk would help to set priorities for intervention or conservation action.
Your stakeholder group has evaluated the data and information from the assessment and trends analyses. Now a future vision for the natural infrastructure program can be created! Perhaps the goals you set out early in the process can be refined based on new data. What are the measures you will use to evaluate successful implementation? How can you se the vision and infrastructure network design to communicate with the broader community? Have you captured all the attributes (ecological, recreation, cultural, economic) in your network design?
Questions such as these can help shape your collective future vision which will then inform your action plans and implementation strategies.
For more information visioning, measures, and key attributes for GI planning:
Green Communities: Where Do We Want to Be?
Green Communities: Indicators
Green Infrastructure - The Conservation Fund
The Natural Infrastructure network is by its very nature complex. In order to turn the vision into reality, an action plan should be developed. Each action is linked to a responsible party, funding source, a goal and a measure. Actions can range from outreach to creating ‘green’ stormwater projects to incorporating low-impact design ordinances into local codes.
An action and implementation strategy has been compared to a quilt (“implementation quilt’) which implies that natural infrastructure actions will require a range of programs, people, funding sources, technical, regulatory and educational tools to achieve the infrastructure design vision.
Action: Landscape Ordinance
Who: Local government/municipalities
What: ordinance will require some action to protect a water resource
How: by regulation, adoption and funding through local open space funds
When: by 2010
An action plan will lay out the details of actions that will develop language for a new landscape ordinance, details as to how it will be funded or incentivized, how it will be measured and evaluated for success. Prior to inclusion in the action plan, the ‘tool’, project or program will have been assessed for its feasibility and connection to achieving the future vision and its relationship to other ongoing projects/programs.
For more information on action plans and implementation strategies:
Green Communities: How Do We Get There? - Tools
Green Communities: Let's Go! - Tools
Center for Watershed Conservation
Green Values Toolbox
Green Infrastructure, Conservation Fund
EPA's Green Infrastructure website