75% of the European population lives in urban areas, and more than 80% of the continent´s surface is urbanized or destined for transportation infrastructures. This means that a large amount of the territory is fragmented (approximately 30%), which in turn results in the damage of ecosystems and their functions. This also affects their capacity to provide healthy habitats for different species, as well as other essential natural resources which sustain economic activity.
The European Commission´s Communication on “Green Infrastructure: improving Europe´s natural capital” defines green infrastructure as the “strategically defined network of natural and semi-natural spaces and other environments designed and managed to offer a wide range of ecosystem services. This includes green spaces (or blue, if referred to aquatic ecosystems) and other physical elements on terrestrial areas (natural, rural or urban) and maritime”.
Green infrastructure is an efficient tool which offers ecological, economic and social benefits through natural solutions, while helping us understand the value of the benefits nature provides society with.
The EU´s document represents the foundation of its Green Infrastructure Strategy, designed to help preserve and improve our natural capital. On the other hand, the European 2020 Biodiversity Strategy goals also include the “maintenance and improvement of ecosystems and ecosystem services no later than 2020, through the establishment of a green infrastructure and restoration of at least 15% of degraded ecosystems”.
In face of this challenge, land management municipal planning must include guidelines and action proposals in order to provide the highest environmental benefit as possible. This is key, but the corporate sector also has a huge potential; natural capital can be significantly improved if business and industrial environments are designed with an integrated approach based on sustainability.
Some of these courses of action include promoting green areas´ connectivity to counteract land fragmentation and landscape´s permeability. An environmentally respectful land use will encourage the dispersal, migration and mobility of species. Other examples are the promotion of water retention, biological improvement of soil and identification of multi-functionality areas, where compatible uses which sustain healthy and biodiverse ecosystems are favoured over other more destructive ones.
The Aichi Goals, as defined by the Biology Diversity Convention, directly call out to businesses as crucial participants who can reduce biodiversity loss and promote the necessary changes towards a more sustainable world.
Las Metas de Aichi del Convenio sobre la Diversidad Biológica hacen un llamamiento explícito a las empresas como actores esenciales para frenar la pérdida de biodiversidad e impulsar el cambio de dirección necesario para transitar hacia un mundo más sostenible.