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Janiszek, M.; Krzysztofik, R. Green Infrastructure in Spatial Planning. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 13 July 2024).
Janiszek M, Krzysztofik R. Green Infrastructure in Spatial Planning. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed July 13, 2024.
Janiszek, Monika, Robert Krzysztofik. "Green Infrastructure in Spatial Planning" Encyclopedia, (accessed July 13, 2024).
Janiszek, M., & Krzysztofik, R. (2023, June 11). Green Infrastructure in Spatial Planning. In Encyclopedia.
Janiszek, Monika and Robert Krzysztofik. "Green Infrastructure in Spatial Planning." Encyclopedia. Web. 11 June, 2023.
Green Infrastructure in Spatial Planning

Adaptation to climate change is becoming one of the main paradigms for how cities function and develop. The significant role of green infrastructure (GI) as a tool for cities to adapt to climate change is increasingly emphasized among practitioners of spatial planning and in the research literature. Green infrastructure should be understood as "a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services. It incorporates green spaces (or blue if aquatic ecosystems are concerned) and other physical features in terrestrial (including coastal) and marine areas".

adaptation climate resilience green infrastructures urban resilience

1. Introduction

The need to adapt to climate change is emphasized in the Strategy of the European Union [1][2]. Increasing the resilience of European Member States is to take place through “[achieving] coordination and coherence at the various levels of planning and management through national adaptation strategies” [2]. As a response, the Polish government published the “Strategic Adaptation Plan for Sectors and Areas Sensitive to Climate Change in Poland until 2020, with a perspective until 2030” (SPA 2020) [3]. At the regional and local level, strategic documents are being developed to define the directions of activities adapting cities to climate change.
The constant pressure of changes and the need to transform cities, caused by dynamic processes within urban structures and the impact of the environment, necessitates new abilities. Some urban centers quickly and effectively adapt to new challenges, but in others, the dynamics of the environment lead to regression or stagnation [4]. Adaptation is an auxiliary concept in planning activities and in directing the process of better managing the current conditions and those expected to change while limiting the negative effects [5]. This allows the desired balance and durability of the city’s functional structure to be achieved. Thus, the adaptive capacity of cities is manifested by responding to disturbances and absorbing unpredictable disturbances without a significant change in the structure and functions, or by effectively creating new ecosystem structures in a short time after the disturbance occurs. The harmonious development of the urban environment can be achieved by introducing greenery as a new infrastructure that better shapes the space in the city [6] and allows for a gentler adaptation to climate change.
Green infrastructure should be understood as “a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services. It incorporates green spaces (or blue if aquatic ecosystems are concerned) and other physical features in terrestrial (including coastal) and marine areas. On land, GI is present in rural and urban settings” [7]. An urban planning process focused on the inclusion of green spaces can contribute to the provision of ecosystem services and to benefits for the local community while also improving the quality of the environment and adapting cities with green infrastructure to climate change [8].
The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations under the Agenda 2030 set new expectations for the future, focusing on sustainability, fairness and inclusiveness [9]. Hence, one of the key and multidimensional challenges of Upper Silesia is a just transition involving the transformation of the economy toward a low- and zero-emission economy, while reducing the social costs associated with the pro-environmental shaping of urban development. Changes in the energy sector toward a low-emission economy (energy transformation) will entail consequences on the labor market and in the structures of mining, conventional energy and related industries in the production chains. This can bring about negative social effects and, in coal regions, even changes in cultural identity [10]. The need to restructure the raw materials and energy sector, which still generates huge amounts of air pollution and greenhouse gases, is dictated by climate change and its global consequences [11].
Reorienting the development paths [12][13] of this region requires the search for new development concepts and technological changes conducive to sustainable socioeconomic transformation, as well as efforts to respect elements of the natural environment [14]. An important dilemma in defining new development paths in post-mining regions is posed by the need to revitalize [15][16] and transform the existing functions performed by post-industrial areas [16][17][18][19]. The emergence of problems related to designating new functions for post-mining areas generates the need to change local and regional land-use strategies [20] and to seek a balance between social and economic needs [21][22]. Therefore, research is being conducted on post-industrial cities in terms of opportunities and threats affecting the possibility of changing development conditions [23][24].

2. Green Infrastructure in Spatial Planning

The European Commission recognizes green infrastructure as a strategic tool for the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services and as an important solution for adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change [7][25][26]. In addition, nature-based solutions, green infrastructure and ecosystem adaptation are of strategic importance for the challenges of climate change and the resilience of cities, including society itself [27]. They provide benefits in terms of adapting areas in order to minimize the effects of climate change, regulating the hydrological network, water management and the impact on land value. In addition, these solutions contribute to reducing soil erosion, filtering pollutants, food production, increasing recreational areas and improving the health of the population [28], as well as protecting biodiversity or restoring degraded biodiversity [29][30]. The negative effects of extreme climatic phenomena and natural disasters (floods, forest fires, avalanches) can be reduced using functional floodplains, riparian forests, protective forests in mountain areas or barrier beaches [7]. In cities, it is recommended to implement green infrastructure in the form of protected areas and other natural areas, restorative habitats, ecological corridors, green bridges, flower meadows or green roofs and walls [31], reducing both the outflow of rainwater [32] and heat island effect [33][34]. As a consequence, urban heat islands [35][36] have a negative impact on the comfort of living and healthy ecosystems (human health), generating problems related to energy management in the city [36] and natural wind flow [37][38].
The role of green infrastructure as a tool for adapting urban areas to climate change was emphasized by Gill et al. [39], who considered it a crucial policy instrument in urban planning at all levels. Irga et al. analyzed the popularity of targeted policy instruments aimed at implementing green infrastructure in Australia in the form of green roofs and green walls [40]. In the literature on the subject, attention has been paid to the aspects of planning and the successful implementation of green infrastructure, which is determined by the availability of planning tools [40], the interest shown by particular parties, the institution implementing the project, participants and coordination of the listed factors. Matthews et al. emphasized that the implementation of green infrastructure as a tool for adapting to climate change depends on the available areas for greening, the morphology of the area and the characteristics of individual species, but above all, on management and community involvement in the decision-making process [41].
Salata drew attention to the inconsistency of concepts describing adaptation, which are most often hidden under scientific terms referring to vulnerability, adaptability and resilience. She attempted to identify, classify and define the main determinants based on scientific and political documents dealing with the issues of practical adaptation regarding green infrastructure planning [5]. She outlined the key strengths and weaknesses of building urban resilience [42], which improves cities’ capacities to cope with contemporary challenges [43]. In addition, she emphasized that GI is one of the most appropriate and effective ways to improve the microclimate and counteract the urban heat island effect [44][45].
Adapting cities to climate change and mitigating climate change has become, on the one hand, an important part of policy, and on the other, an indispensable strategic action at all levels of spatial planning and management [44][46][47][48][49]. In addition, spatial planning in the field of adapting to climate change should be promoted on a local and regional scale, inducing a synergy effect, for example, in the field of biodiversity protection [50]. Hurlimann and March [51] presented six reasons why spatial planning can address adaptation, while Wilson [52] focused on the role of local development plans in the UK as a means of promoting adaptation to climate change. Such an approach is crucial in adapting cities and creating their resilience to climate change [7][52][53][54][55].
A number of factors facilitating and hindering the successful implementation of green infrastructure projects can be found in the literature. Taking into account the possibilities in the field of design, management of organizational structures, obtaining funds or involving beneficiaries in the implementation of green infrastructure, it can be stated that there is no universal recipe ensuring the successful implementation of a project [55]. Structural/operational barriers characterize the group’s functioning, organizational structures and procedures in accordance with the existing regulations, principles and directions of long-term policies. They may force the introduction of changes in project management during its implementation due to the difficulties arising from the determination of property ownership [56] or the ineffectiveness of the system’s response procedures to bottom-up opinions. Regulatory and legislative barriers are characteristic of the policy tools (obsolete or limited) at the disposal of organizations at many administrative levels. These barriers are caused by inconsistent and frequently changing relevant legal regulations, which, in turn, leads to a lack of connections between strategic and planning documents [56] or cumbersome administrative procedures related to the required documentation or applications for investment co-financing. The influence of cultural and behavioral barriers stems from customs, values, beliefs, interests and personal relationships between decision-makers [56]. They are related to the low level of awareness and social acceptance resulting from the different priorities and concerns of landowners and the potential negative impact on adjacent areas [57]. The above types of barriers appear in the context of each investment, i.e., the environment in which the organization operates, and the values and priorities represented by a given society [58]. When long-term processes of environmental change come into contact with short terms of office, it usually results in populist political decisions and expectations of spectacular results. There are also barriers due to the use of human, technical and financial resources that hinder the integration of a new initiative with the development strategy developed by a given administrative unit [59]. The fragmentation in how green infrastructure projects are implemented and the lack of continuity in financing result in an inability to create a common vision of development that seeks to create a system of natural, recreational and landscape connections. It should be noted that particular groups of barriers may occur at any stage of the implementation of green infrastructure projects or may constitute an obstacle preventing the implementation of projects.
The concept of green infrastructure has become one of the most efficient and effective planning tools for mitigating and adapting to climate change [5]. This tool increases the resilience of cities and reduces their vulnerability to the effects of climate change, thus enabling sustainable development. In order to obtain the most effective benefits from the use of green infrastructure, activities in the field of urban planning and management should be integrated [60][61]. The physical and organizational aspect of spatial planning should integrate socioecological interactions, changing the approach to a more ecosystem-based one.
However, it should be take into consideration that setting new paths for the development of post-industrial cities in the Katowice Conurbation is dictated primarily by the possibility of re-development of the post-mining areas studied, on the one hand, in the natural aspect, by preserving biodiversity and strengthening ecosystem services [62][63][64][65][66], and on the other hand, in terms of social transformation, economic and spatial development of the city and even the region [65][67]. Over the last 30 years, the image of Silesian Voivodeship and the Katowice Conurbation located within it has changed from one of a region dominated by heavy industry (especially hard coal mining) to that of a region with a diverse structure of industrial sectors and services, including metropolitan services and functions [68][69].
The development of post-industrial areas in the central part of the Silesian Voivodeship using the principles of green infrastructure has, so far, been carried out in the following areas: leisure and recreation (revitalization and afforestation, allotment gardens), education (education paths), nature (flower meadows, planting native plants, retention of rainwater), tourist (walking paths, bicycle routes) and investment (pocket parks, green balconies and roofs) [10][70][71][72][73]. Therefore, strengthening the resilience of cities to the effects of climate change induces a change in the approach to issues related to planning green areas and sustainable land use, migration and unemployment, social inclusion and exclusion, the commercial and residential real estate market and the scale of post-industrial areas and wastelands.


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