Beyond the ‘wow factor’? Climate resilient green infrastructure for people and wildlife



Publication Date

August 2022


Covid-19 and COP26 both amplified calls from the environment sector for greater support for greenspace management globally. As the future of our planet and population is threatened by a global pandemic, escalating mental health challenges and the interrelated climate and biodiversity crises, there is a growing awareness of the potential for the intersecting roles of greenspace (GS), green infrastructure (GI) and nature-based solutions (NBS) to meet the myriad socio-economic and ecological of modern society (Frantzeskaki, 2019; Venkataramanan et al., 2020). Unfortunately, their potential to address these challenges remains undervalued by many, and thus underfunded, (Mell, 2021).

Presenting examples of ‘research into action’, we advocate greenspace management to maximise benefits for people and wildlife. We draw on research from UK to consider how and why different people react to landscapes of varying aesthetic and biodiversity quality (Hoyle et al. 2017a), proposing an alternative approach to biodiversity-friendly greenspace management under austerity. Next, we emphasise the urgency of ‘futureproofing’ places to adapt to changing climate, demonstrating the public acceptability of climate-ready urban GI (Hoyle, 2021). Finally, we discuss how socio-cultural variables and values impact on preferences. We illustrate the benefits of co-creating local NBS with reference to ‘Futureproofing Luton’, a live project engaging diverse partners in the co-production of an educational arboretum-meadow.

We propose alternative options open to all natural and built environment and public health professionals to support knowledge exchange promoting more sustainable forms of urban development. Although framed within a UK context, the processes of engagement, best practice exchange, and more effective dialogue, are meaningful across Europe and beyond.