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You are here: Home / News / Green infrastructure a hit at the Dublin ESOF 2012 Conference ◄A►

Green infrastructure a hit at the Dublin ESOF 2012 Conference ◄A►

The ALTER-Net and PEER networks held a successful session on green infrastructure at the recent ESOF 2012 conference in Dublin.

The Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) is Europe’s largest, general science meeting and is held in a leading Europe city every two years. ESOF 2012 was hosted by Dublin from July 11th-15th, 2012. ESOF is unique in the diversity of delegates who attend. It attracts top researchers from the natural sciences and the social sciences; business leaders; senior EU and government officials; and international scientific media. They come to discuss the best of European science and to address all of the current major global scientific challenges, including energy, climate change, environment, food and health.

On Sunday 15th July a group of enthusiastic delegates gathered in the Dublin Convention Centre, located in Spencer Dock in the heart of Dublin city, to hear a session on green infrastructure co-organised by ALTER-Net and PEER (Partnership for European Environmental Research).

Green infrastructure links natural, semi-natural and urban features, areas and spaces together. It provides both ecological as well as societal well-being, and resilience against dramatic changes. It provides us with cultural ecosystem services such as possibilities for recreation, inspiration, learning and spiritual gains. It is a ‘hot topic’ in relation to the science-policy-society interface because it is presently the subject of research and debate by the European Commission who see it as a concept that, once realised, could deliver sustainable European rural and urban landscapes. Green infrastructure is a major element within the second target of Europe's 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and its development and implementation are the subject of much interest among researchers, policy makers, the scientific press and the interested public.

Delegates, ESOF2012Key questions fuelling the current debate include:

  • how do we identify, restore and 'green' infrastructure that supports sustainability and maintains its cultural ecosystem services?
  • can energy production from forests be sustainable and support recreational purposes?
  • can green infrastructure contribute to climate change adaptation?
  • can we apply a similar principles and approaches to the Marine environment?

 

Keynote speakers were called on by the meeting chair, Dr Eeva Furman of SYKE and ALTER-Net, to address these issues. Thus: Dr Isabel Sousa Pinto (CIIMAR) talked about what kind of infrastructure is likely to be required for marine area planning, including some wonderful insights from leading edge research; Dr Ilkka Hanski (Helsinki University) highlighted the link between green infrastructure and human health; Dr Maria Luisa Paracchini (JRC) showed us what kind of green infrastructure support recreational needs in Europe; and Dr Kinga Krauze (ERCE/UNESCO) illustrated how to generate a switch of the management paradigm in urban scenery “from grey to green” with a case study from Lodz in Poland.

These presentations were followed by a highly informative question and answer session moderated by Dr Lawrence Jones-Walters of ECNC, in which Ms Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP and Shane Colgan of the Irish Environmental Protection Agency gave valuable insights into different aspects of policy implementation and practical delivery, stimulating a highly active discussion and response from the participants.

In conclusion, the importance of green and blue infrastructure to human health and economic well-being was perfectly illustrated. The level of innovation in relation to research in this field is clearly very high and is drawing much interest from policymakers who wish to provide frameworks within which the effective implementation of green infrastructure can take place - at all levels.

Words & pictures by Lawrence Jones-Walters, ECNC

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