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Publication Date

2016

Abstract

Greenways are as diverse in their contemporary forms as the geographical regions they sample. Within an Australian urban context this paper will outline how greenways have added to their culturally focussed intentions of recreation and active transport (Little, 1995; Walmsley, 1995) and could now be described as ‘green infrastructure’. Described by Benedict & McMahon (2006) as essential and life-supporting, Australian green infrastructure follows Europe’s lead (Jongman, Külvik, & Kristiansen, 2004) expanding the greenway remit to include vital hydrological functions (Ahern, 2007), the provision of valuable ecosystem services (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005) and a range of essential ecological benefits for urban regions across multiple scales. This paper begins by reviewing Sydney’s open space and greenway history, policy and planning and culminates with a detailed study of its most recent greenway proposal, the Sydney Green Grid (Schaffer, 2015). As a multi-functional green infrastructure this city-wide framework aims to create a strategic open space network; to reinforce sense of place between citizens and landscape; and to promote multifunctional environmental, health, social and economic benefits. A series of drawings then explored one strand of this network, the Mountains to the Sea greenway where the shift from large (city) to small (neighbourhood) scale was explored in detail, revealing a potential green infrastructure that offered a spectrum of critical ecological, hydrological, cultural and transportation benefits. However, it also revealed the existing complexities in implementing such a scheme in the contemporary city. This paper argues that it is both timely and relevant that greenways be considered and reframed as essential ‘green infrastructure’, however that such networks must also be interrogated through mapping and design methods such as those demonstrated herein in order to facilitate their implementation and adoption.

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