Bridging scales in green infrastructure planning

Authors and Affiliations: 

Johanna Deak Sjöman

Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

P O Box 58

SE 230 53 Alnarp, Sweden


With predictions and indications of what may be expected in the future in terms of urban expansion, land use change and new climate conditions, the role of urban green infrastructure is recognized for its multifunctional benefits and superior capacity to a wide range of ecosystem services. As such, green infrastructure and green space planning are with no doubt an imperative tool to advance our towns and cities into systems of complex adaptation to unexpected change. In this perspective, individual green space quality and site level conditions become essential to a resilient landscape in a larger scale context and to the making of a flexible web that will allow and adapt to unforeseen change.

However, knowledge of why, where and how urban green space may integrate in relation to its local and far reaching performance needs to progress and develop. This is most important in European cities where the compact city form governs the concept of sustainable development and less space for vegetation and permeable surface covers may reduce the connectivity of the overall green infrastructure.

Based on a case study in southern Sweden, methods to link green space performance to site specific conditions were tested as an integral part of the new development scheme of Lomma Harbour, (funded by the Delegation of Sustainable Cities, Swedish Government). With the micro-climate simulation tool of ENVImet, illustrative conclusions of where to strategically place vegetation in order to reduce wind speed, and lower mean radiant temperatures have helped create a new perspective on future green space planning. By pointing to the species specific performance of individual trees and alternative green structures, and how the strategic placing of vegetation interlaces with the goals and initiatives of real estate developers and municipality, the study has helped further why and how green space implementation contribute to the objectives of energy efficiency, less wear and tear on building materials, a better microclimate for human wellbeing etc. The approach puts a further focus on the dispersed green structure in the urban landscape – a green structure predominantly existing along streets, pedestrian precincts and parking lots, and within the private realm of residential areas. Recognition of the ecosystem services provided by site level green structure will subsequently also help securing green spaces competing with artificial infrastructural functions and point towards joint capacities of e.g. runoff mitigation, recreational values, increased biodiversity, etc.

Although the study is case specific to Lomma Harbour, the aim is also to encourage an international discussion in how to bridge green infrastructural planning to a site level perspective on quality and performance, and how, in turn, site level green space influence and strengthen an overall landscape resilience.


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