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Brown fields, green spaces, and regeneration

22 April 2009 Inderscience

A lack of continuity of purpose and perspective between individuals and organisations involved in reclaiming brownfield sites and regenerating them as green spaces could stymie such efforts making them unsustainable. Researchers in Greece and the UK have now published a review of objectives in the International Journal Management and Decision Making, which could overcome the problem of fragmentation and improve regeneration plans and drive sustainable greenspace management.

Kieron Doick, Andrew Moffat, and Tony Hutchings of the Land Regeneration and Urban Greening Research Group, at Forest Research, part of the British Forestry Commission, in Farnham, Surrey, working with Kalliope Pediaditi of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute Chania on Crete, Greece have looked at projects involving greenspace establishment on brownfield land, and proposed new objectives for ensuring such reclamation is sustainable.

Their proposals suggest ways to overcome issues associated with different "stakeholder" perspectives on sustainability, the design of reclaimed greenspaces, and how to monitor them in the long term.

Urban greenspace fulfils a variety of environmental, social and economic roles, the researchers explains, including attenuating noise pollution and even absorbing atmospheric gaseous and particulate pollutants. It also provides ecological niches for wildlife and vegetation that would otherwise not exist. From the social perspective, greenspaces provide areas for health recreation in neighbourhoods and communities that are otherwise deprived of access to nature.

There is, however, an ongoing debate about the economic value of greenspace which centres on whether it is the most commercially productive use to which such land might be put; a point raised recently regarding the need for related green-belt land.

Doick and colleagues argue on the basis of evidence from Europe and the USA that while greenspace may remove potential housing development land, it can be made sufficiently multifunctional to compensate for the loss of development employment and revenues. However, to be successful they urge that the conversion of brownfield to greenspace must be done with sustainability as a principle goal.


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