Green Infrastructure Presentation
The Green Infrastructure work group of Piedmont Together held a public informational webinar on February 7th. The webinar gave an overview of green infrastructure, introduced the results of the Piedmont Triad Green Infrastructure public survey and detailed the work groups’ scope of work for the next year.
At the conclusion of the webinar representatives of the work group answered questions from attendees.
Watch and listen to the recorded presentation by using YouTube below. Please note that the opening slides and a few minutes of the webinar at the beginning did not get recorded.
Use Slide Share below to go through the presentation at a slower pace.
Reminder: the public survey is still open and can be accessed HERE if you would like to participate and share your views on our green infrastructure in the Piedmont Triad.
What is Green Infrastructure?
Green infrastructure refers to an interconnected green space network (including natural areas and features, public and private conservation lands, working lands with conservation values, and other protected open spaces) that is planned and managed for its natural resource values and for the associated benefits it confers to human populations.
Green infrastructure also describes a process that promotes a systematic and strategic approach to land conservation at the national, state, regional, and local scales, encouraging land-use planning and practices that are good for nature and for people.
(Benedict, Mark A. and Edward T. McMahon. 2006. Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities.)
Our streams, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs are valuable resources. They provide us water for drinking, wastewater processing, irrigation, recreation, fishing and industrial processing.
There are 1,602 miles of Good Waters in the Triad region. The NC Division of Water Quality (NC DWQ) designates these waters as “Good” or “Excellent” based upon their biology and chemistry—some qualify as “High Quality Waters,” “Outstanding Resource Waters,” or “Trout Waters.”
These classifications are based upon a water’s value to ecosystems and communities, and the presence of endangered or threatened species, and/or trout.
All drinking water supplies are protected by regulations on development densities.
There are 596 miles of Impaired Waters in the Triad region. These are those waters that are failing to meet NC DWQ healthy biological or chemical criteria.
Impaired Streams fail to meet water quality standards for pH, total suspended solids, fecal coliform bacteria and habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, among others.
The sources of impairment vary, though impacts from sediment and stormwater runoff (results of development impacts) are our two largest water quality concerns. Strategic use of green infrastructure can help prevent these impacts.
Working Lands are both farmland and forestland in which commodity production is emphasized. Many working land parcels include both farming and forestry.
Green infrastructure includes most farmland and forest, but only larger contiguous areas of working lands are highlighted in this map.
Conservation of working lands protects quality of life, recreational opportunities, local food production, ecotourism, agro-tourism, scenic and cultural landscapes, local jobs and community businesses. Working lands also provide ecosystem services.
- Farms are the foundation of the Triad’s agribusiness industry, which generated gross revenues of $768 million in 2011 (NC Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services).
- Forests provide economic income from timber and wood fiber. The 2010 stumpage and delivered value on timber production in the Triad totaled $124 million (NC Forest Service).
Protection of the Triad’s working lands saves local governments money. Suburban development requires more public services (incurring higher costs) than working lands (American Farmland Trust).
Working lands preservation is becoming more vital as suburban areas grow. From 2002 to 2007, the Triad lost 215 sq. miles of farmland to development—this is comparable to losing the entirety of Davie County over five years (USDA Census of Agriculture).
BIODIVERSITY AND WILDLIFE HABITAT
Biodiversity refers to the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, and is one measure of the health of ecosystems. Terrestrial (land) and aquatic (water) ecosystems are comprised of communities of organisms that are dependent on each other and on their environment. Humans ultimately depend upon healthy ecosystems to provide a multitude of resources, ecological processes and economic services.
The NC Natural Heritage Program catalogs the rarest and most outstanding elements of biodiversity. These elements include plants and animals so rare, or natural communities so significant, they merit special consideration in land-use decisions.
- Significant Natural Heritage Areas (SNHAs) are sites that contain rare species, rare or high quality plant communities, and/or special animal habitats.
- Landscape Habitat Indicator Guilds (LHIGs) represent core high quality wildlife habitats and connections between those habitats. LHIGs are mapped based on the presence of species sensitive to human impacts and other habitat degradation.
The Piedmont Triad region boasts 330 terrestrial and aquatic SNHAs (ca. 90,000 acres), and approximately 4.5 million acres of mapped LHIGs. Conservation of these areas is critical to maintaining biodiversity and the important ecosystem and economic services they provide.
LANDS MANAGED FOR CONSERVATION
Existing open space and conservation lands are the parts of the green infrastructure network that are currently managed in a natural or semi natural state and supply multiple ecosystem services.
Lands managed for conservation include private lands as well as federal, state and local public lands that are actively managed for conservation.
In the Triad these lands include a national forest; state parks, game lands and recreation areas; and private lands with voluntary conservation easements. These lands provide for recreational opportunities for both locals and visitors, supporting our local economy. Hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching brought in $52 million in Triad revenue and NC fees/taxes in 2006 (NC Wildlife Resources Commission, 2006 benefits of Hunting, Fishing, and Wildlife Watching in North Carolina).
Also important are public lands which are primarily managed as public green space and for outdoor recreation. Examples of these spaces are city and county parks, greenways, riparian buffers and trails.
Diverse and healthy ecosystems can provide many important services for humans. They can clean the air; produce oxygen; store carbon, mitigate flooding and other hazards; protect, filter and recharge water resources; decompose and detoxify waste; generate soils; and provide habitats for plants, animals and other species. Ecosystems also provide food and support crop pollination; provide timber and other raw materials; and provide tourism destinations.
If you wish to become engaged in the Green Infrastructure work group, you may contact Kyle Laird by email or phone at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336.235.6646.
For more information on the Piedmont Triad Sustainable Communities Planning Project please visit the project website at www.triadsustainability.org. And also visit Piedmont Voice at www.piedmontvoice.org to share your thoughts on your region, your community and your project.