This work aims to comprehensively describe the current state of the concept of green infrastructure. It is thus meant to fill in a gap in Polish literature as no comprehensive works concerning green infrastructure have been published in our country even though we have witnessed several such works in other places in the world. The book is mostly addressed to urban planners, spatial planners and landscape architects and it focuses on issues related to developing strategies or green nalyzingture network designs. It is difficult to establish when (and by whom) the term “green infrastructure” was actually coined. The performed literature search indicates that various authors attribute its beginnings to different publications. There is, however, much more consensus regarding the origins of the idea of green infrastructure. Among the concepts regarded as the bases for the notion of green infrastructure we can discern two principal ones: the concept of ecological networks and the concept of greenways (in the US). In Poland, such concepts included the Ecological System of Protected Areas (in Polish: Ekologiczny System Obszarów Chronionych) and System of Open Spaces (in Polish: System terenów otwartych). There is some disagreement regarding the origins of green infrastructure in cities. Analysis of defi nitions of green infrastructure seen in both scientific publications as well as guides and formal documents leads to a single conclusion – we should accept the diversity of interpretations and approaches. A similar diversity in approaches can also be found when looking at the presented typologies. By analyzing the rationale behind the typologies, we can discern three major criteria used by the authors: land cover, land use and ecological value, which is usually associated with formal protection of specifi c areas. The principles of green infrastructure development can be divided into planning-related (multi-functionality, connectivity, multi-scale approach, multi-object approach, cost-effective approach) and governance-related (strategic approach, integration, social inclusion, transdisciplinarity, stakeholder inclusion).
Green infrastructure provides people with a multitude of more or less measurable benefits. For the last several years they have been identified and quantified using a concept of ecosystem services. These services are always provided in certain confi gurations, which means that it is only possible to obtain the benefits if the services generating those benefi ts are not contradictory to each other. For several years now, the European Commission has been conducting research on the scope, possibilities and methods of implementing the concept of green infrastructure in the member states. However, the EU’s offi cial position on this subject was declared only in 2013 via Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Green Infrastructure (GI) — Enhancing Europe’s Natural Capital.
In both EU member states and the United States, non-governmental organizations are the main advocates of the concept of green infrastructure. They have been recently joined by governmental and self-government agencies. The case studies of already developed strategies and designs of the concept of green infrastructure presented in this book illustrate a great diversity of approaches. It is particularly noticeable in the way of identifying specific components and principles of planning and implementation of green infrastructure networks. These differences come mainly from the varying scale of development, adopted interpretations of the notion of green infrastructure as well as specifi c natural, social and sometimes economic conditions in particular areas. Based on the knowledge and experience gathered from the analysis of those cases, we can point out the following problems that Polish planners need to face in order to develop and implement green infrastructure for Polish rural communes, cities and regions:
• good selection of the formula and defi nition of green infrastructure that is appropriate for the scale, specifi c conditions of the area, needs of the inhabitants and ambitions of the authorities;
• good identification of areas with potential for green infrastructure development that is appropriate for the scale and problems of a specific area (city, village, region)
• identification of the scope and degree of confl ict between ecosystem services provided by individual components of green infrastructure;
• development of a spatial concept that includes the problem of the inherent conflict between the expected benefits (especially regulation and maintenance versus cultural) coming from individual components of green infrastructure;
• proposal of appropriate instruments for implementing the concept and resolving the problem of its coexistence with other concepts of shaping the ecological structure of cities, rural communes and regions in Poland.
Summing up, the concept of green infrastructure can be viewed as the ultimate synthesis of all former ideas dealing with the development of ecological structure of cities, open landscapes and regions. In most European countries, apart from Great Britain, the concept of green infrastructure is currently in its implementation phase. Therefore, its true – not paper – history is about to begin and it will probably look diff erent in every country. It will be aff ected by various traditions of development planning, the already developed concepts, degree of involvement of the authorities and – probably above all – the will of those that expect quantifiable benefits from green infrastructure.