Green infrastructure is a term that has multiple interpretations and uses in the twenty-first century. Historically, green infrastructure has been identified as the natural areas, farms, and recreational sites that provide habitat for rare and endangered species, food for growing communities, and opportunities for swimming, fishing, hiking, hunting, and many other activities. But green infrastructure can be pristine watersheds that ensure clean waters for a growing community; a street tree that absorbs stormwater runoff, air pollution, and heat while providing shade cover; a state park that is a focal point for the local economy, drawing in visitors who recreate and stay in local towns to eat, shop, and sleep.
Green infrastructure is found in every community of the Piedmont Triad, but the ways in which it is serves the larger region can be very different. The redevelopment of the Triad’s urban cores and the concern regarding its loss of farmland and open spaces offers the region an opportunity to invest in all types of green infrastructure to sustain and improve the quality of life for all Triad residents.
The Piedmont Triad has many tools with which it can solve its current and future green infrastructure needs. The questions communities need to engage in more regard their willingness to assess their long-term economic, social, and environmental goals, and reassess their definition of value as they apply it to their natural resources.
The lands, waters, forests, farms, and parks of the Piedmont Triad have been defining characteristics of the region. To retain that character and quality of life will require present actions and planning to protect, preserve, and enhance these assets in order to minimize costs and improve the livability of the region at both local and regional scales.
Present trends of land development will cost the region many of these resources and the services they provide. Replacing those services with grey infrastructure or retrofitting existing urban environments with green infrastructure is more costly than preventing these impacts from occurring in the first place. Maximizing the benefits of the existing green infrastructure through its integration into local and regional planning processes is in the interest of all Triad communities, conserving costs and better serving their citizens.
The economic, societal, and environmental future of the Piedmont Triad’s green infrastructure will be defined by the choices made today.
Read more in the attached report.