Green Infrastructure Principles

green infrastructure principles

Natural England has developed a set of GI Principles that underpin the GI Framework. The Principles are intended to provide a baseline for different organisations to develop stronger green infrastructure policy and delivery. The principles cover the Why, What and How to do good green infrastructure.

The principles were developed by:

  1. Studying other GI Principles including the early work of practitioners in USA and academics such as Monteiro in Portugal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. Analysing the feedback from 10 GI trials which took place in late 2020 and early 2021.
  3. Taking feedback from the GI standards project steering and advisory group which includes representatives across the sector.
  4. Internal discussions and consultation with Natural England Specialists.
  5. Working with other Standards owners.
GI Principles Diagram

The Principles - In Detail

Each of the 15 Principles has:

  • A summary of the Principle in one sentence
  • A more detailed description of what the Principle is about
  • What the Principle is seeking to achieve at a strategic level
  • What the Principle is seeking to achieve at local level
  • Government policy hooks
  • Links to relevant evidence
Green Infrastructure Principles PDF

Green Infrastructure Principles (NE 2023)

Please download this document for a detailed look at the Green Infrastructure Principles.

For further information on the Green Infrastructure Principles, please watch our Green Infrastructure Framework launch event.







Benefits principles: 'WHY' GI should be provided - the benefits

1. Nature rich beautiful places

GI supports nature to recover and thrive everywhere, in towns, cities and countryside, conserving and enhancing natural beauty, wildlife and habitats, geology and soils, and our cultural and personal connections with nature

2. Active and healthy places

Green neighbourhoods, green / blue spaces and green routes support active lifestyles, community cohesion and nature connections that benefit physical and mental health and wellbeing, and quality of life. GI also helps to mitigate health risks such as urban heat stress, noise pollution, flooding and poor air quality.

3. Thriving and prospering communities

GI helps to create and support prospering communities that benefit everyone and adds value by creating high quality environments which are attractive to businesses and investors, create green jobs, support retail and high streets, and to help support the local economy and regeneration.

4. Improved water management

GI reduces flood risk, improves water quality and natural filtration, helps maintain the natural water cycle and sustainable drainage at local and catchment scales, reducing pressures on the water environment and infrastructure, bringing amenity, biodiversity, economic and other benefits.

5. Resilient and climate positive places

GI makes places more resilient and adaptive to climate change and helps to meet zero carbon and air quality targets. GI itself should be designed to adapt to climate change to ensure long term resilience.

Descriptive principles: 'WHAT' good GI looks like - the attributes

1. Multifunctional

GI should deliver a range of functions and benefits for people, nature and places, address specific issues and to meet their needs. Multifunctionality (delivering multiple functions from the same area of GI) is especially important in areas where provision is poor quality or scarce.

2. Varied

GI should comprise a variety of types and sizes of green and blue spaces, green routes and environmental features (as part of a network) that can provide a range of different functions, benefits and solutions to address specific issues and needs.

3. Connected

GI should function and connect as a living network for people and nature at all scales (e.g. within sites, and across regions/at national scale). It should enhance ecological networks and support ecosystems services, connecting provision of GI with those who need its benefits.

4. Accessible

GI should create and maintain green liveable places that enable people to experience and connect with nature, and that offer everyone, wherever they live, access to good quality parks, green spaces, recreational, walking and cycling routes that are inclusive, safe, welcoming, well-managed and accessible for all.

5. Character

GI should respond to an area’s character so that it contributes to the conservation, enhancement and/or restoration of landscapes; or, in degraded areas, creates new high-quality landscapes to which local people feel connected.

Process principles: 'HOW' to Plan, Design, and Nurture Green Infrastructure

1. Partnerhsip and Vision

Work in partnership, and collaborate with stakeholders from the outset to co-plan, develop and deliver a vision for GI in the area. Engage a diverse and inclusive range of people and organisations including citizens, local authorities, developers, communities, land owners, green space managers, environmental, health, climate, transport and business representatives.

2. Evidence

Use scientific evidence, and good land use practices when planning and enhancing green and blue infrastructure. Understand the evidence for the benefits of current GI assets; and data on environmental, social and economic challenges and needs in the area.

3. Plan Strategically

Plan strategically and secure GI as a key asset in local strategy and policy, at all scales. Fully integrate and mainstream GI into environmental, social, health and economic policy. Create and maintain sustainable places for current and future populations, and address inequalities in GI provision.

4. Design

Understand an area’s landscape/townscape, natural, historic and cultural character to create well-designed, beautiful and distinctive places.

5. Managed, valued, monitored, and evaluated

Plan good governance, funding, management, monitoring, and evaluation of green infrastructure as a key asset from the outset and secure it for the long-term. Make the business case for GI. Engage communities in stewardship where appropriate. Celebrate success and raise awareness of GI benefits.