Bridging the gap: Equitable investment in city greenspace

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

Green infrastructure encompasses a variety of practices that use soil and vegetation including vegetated rooftops, roadside plantings, tree-lined streets with natural canopy cover, and absorbent gardens to capture, filter, and reduce stormwater. Manufactured materials such as porous pavement is another example of GI often used in sidewalks, parking lots and driveways to increase surface permeability. Porous pavement allows rainfall to seep through to underlying layers of soil that filter the surface water before becoming groundwater.

Creating more greenspace in urban areas not only adds natural beauty to the surrounding area but can also improve the health and well-being of its residents. The presence of parks, community gardens and other vegetation can create recreational spaces, revitalize ecosystems and boost the local economy – all of which are highly beneficial to people living within those urban areas. However, these services are not always distributed equitably and can result in or perpetuate environmental injustices in received benefits.

EPA actively supports the use of both constructed and natural GI as cost-effective alternatives to traditional stormwater infrastructure to help manage wet weather flows and conducts research to identify and quantify the effects of green infrastructure and urban greenspace.

As part of this effort, a team of EPA scientists led by Matt Hopton and Page Jordan focused on identifying benefits received from urban greenspace and supporting integration of these benefits into stormwater management planning. In 2019, Hopton and team began designing a framework to demonstrate a practical approach to help communities access benefits of greenspace while managing stormwater. This effort led to the team conducting a case study to test the framework and learn if those benefits could be used in underserved urban areas. 

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