Landscape contractors welcome the EU’s plan for enhancing Green Infrastructure
ELCA: “The prospect of financial support is encouraging”
Europe’s landscape gardeners and architects welcome the European Commission’s new strategy on Green Infrastructure. “The strategy recognises at the highest level the key role Green Infrastructure has to play as a sustainable tool that can be used by cities and local authorities throughout Europe. It is especially encouraging that the Commission has raised the prospect of technical and financial support for investment in Green Infrastructure,” emphasised the General Secretary of the “European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA)“, Hermann Kurth.
In its recent communication “Green Infrastructure (GI) – Enhancing Europe’s Natural Capital”, the Commission stated its intention to provide a structure to support and promote GI projects within the existing legal, political and financial framework. The goal is to encourage the use of Green Infrastructure. “In its communication, the Commission recognises that Green Infrastructure is a tried and tested tool for providing ecological, economic and social benefits through recourse to natural solutions and must be consciously integrated into land-use planning and territorial development,” Kurth stated.
The priorities of the European Commission’s strategy are as follows:
- The promotion of Green Infrastructure in agriculture and forestry, nature conservation, regional and cohesion policies, climate protection and adaptation to climate change, land use and transport and energy policies,
- Improvements to research, the data and knowledge base and the promotion of innovative technologies that favour Green Infrastructure,
- Facilitated access to funding for Green Infrastructure projects and,
- Support for Green Infrastructure projects at the EU level.
“By establishing these priorities, the Commission has satisfied the demands of the ELCA,” said Kurth. “Under the Commission’s plan, inner-city green spaces will make a significant contribution to sustainable urban development,” he continued. “Green solutions must form a key aspect of the cityscape through the inclusion of a large proportion of parks and outdoor sport, play and leisure facilities,” Kurth demanded, adding that this also reflects the wishes of citizens for plentiful greenspace in the vicinity of their homes. “Landscape gardening and architecture specialists have a central role to play in finding solutions for the sustainable greening of our urban environments. Professionally executed green construction initiatives and expert facility management go a long way to ensuring the sustainability of green spaces. Landscape gardeners and architects also have extensive experience with regard to the enhancement and renaturation of the landscape and in flood protection measures and it is this know-how that should be drawn on more thoroughly in future,” added the ELCA General Secretary.
He also welcomed the Commission’s recognition of the need for the financing of research and the innovative development of Green Infrastructure and that it will be making resources available through its Horizon 2020 programme and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). “Ecologically-oriented research in the areas of construction and vegetation is essential if we are to better employ the potential inherent in natural green features,” remarked Kurth. Since the required investment in the construction, development and maintenance of urban green spaces has often not been made due to budgetary constraints, it is particularly encouraging that the Commission has recognised the need for technical and financial support for investment in Green Infrastructure,” Kurth emphasised, adding that the ELCA is prepared to play a prominent role in the work that lies ahead.
European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA)
The European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) is the European Association of garden, landscape and sports facility contractors. Founded in 1963, the Association represents the interests of over 80,000 businesses at the European level. The ELCA promotes the mutual exchange of information and experience and supports the vocational training of young people within the industry. It also supports European garden shows and the role of landscaping in urban development. Twenty one national landscaping associations are currently full members of the ELCA, which also has five associate members.
For further information visit www.ELCA.info