Boost to green infrastructure across Europe

Press release 2016-11-02 at 16:27

Experts on green infrastructure met this week in Koli in the North Karelia region of Finland. The purpose of the meeting was to share good practices among the European Green Belt countries and other stakeholders and consolidate the position of the Green Belt as part of the European green infrastructure. Further measures to be incorporated into the European Green Belt Initiative were also discussed.

Green infrastructure is a strategically planned network of both natural and semi-natural areas. The network has been designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services.

European Green Infrastructure Strategy

The Green Infrastructure Strategy published by the European Commission in 2013 aims to enhance biodiversity and the ecosystem services it produces to sustain various kinds of shocks such as climate change. Now the Commission is preparing further measures to promote the introduction of green infrastructure.

"Green Belt is an excellent example of what we can achieve on the European level", says Stefan Leiner, Head of Biodiversity Unit at the DG Environment.

Strategy for the Fennoscandian Green Belt adopted

Finland is committed to promoting green infrastructure. This is also included in the Government Resolution on the Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Finland 2012-2020. According to the objectives of the strategy, networks of protected areas are well interconnected and green infrastructure connects them to wider landscape entities, taking account of the special features of heritage landscapes.

In Finland the Green Infrastructure Strategy is implemented in cross-border cooperation on the Fennoscandian Green Belt. The three parties that have adopted this common strategy are Norway, Finland and Russia. One of the key financial instruments of the strategy implementation is the European Neighbourhood Instrument ENI of the EU Cross Border Cooperation, with the negotiations all but completed.

Green infrastructure has been taken into account in the Uusimaa regional plan, master plan of the city of Lahti, and land use planning in Sipoo, Tampere and Järvenpää. The North Karelia and Kymenlaakso Regional Councils are currently discussing how green infrastructure could best be taken into account in updating their regional plans. National urban parks are one practical example of the implementation of the European Green Infrastructure Strategy.

The Ministry of the Environment has started the process to revise the national land use guidelines (VAT). The aim is that the Government could decide on the revised guidelines in spring 2018.

European Green Belt

The European Green Belt is an ecological corridor more than 12 500 kilometres long which combines natural parks and valuable habitats in a unique way, following the one-time border between the east and west. The Green Belt runs through 24 European states from the Barents Sea in Russia to the Black Sea and the Bulgarian and Turkish border. The Fennoscandian Green Belt, composed of the current and planned nature conservation areas in Finland, Norway and the bordering regions of Russia, constitutes the northernmost section of the European Green Belt.

"Now it is important to promote the implementation of green infrastructure by calling upon the states to prepare strategic plans on areas to supplement the current network of protected areas", says Gabriel Schwaderer, Chair of the European Green Belt Association.

Inquiries

Kristiina Niikkonen, Environment Counsellor, firstname.lastname@ym.fi, +358 295 250 198