Green infrastructures for human well-being in European forest landscapes

Authors and Affiliations: 

Marine Elbakize

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Corresponding author: 
marine elbakidze

Green infrastructure policy encourages strategic spatial planning towards functional networks of high quality natural and semi-natural areas that deliver a wide range of ecosystem services (ES) and biodiversity conservation (EU 2013, Benedict and McMahon 2002). This requires comprehensive context-specific analyses of the perceived importance of different ES to people in both rural and urban settings, and a methodology for mapping of potential spatial elements of GI that deliver the demanded ES, which can be fed into spatial planning processes (Lafortezza et al. 2009, Lafortezza et al. 2013). In this study we identified and mapped different land covers as GI important for people in different contexts. What type of land covers delivers ecosystem services (ES) important for human wellbeing? What types of land management are important to maintain the provision of ES? In total 1600 structured interviews were made in Sweden, Latvia, Belarus and Russia. Respondents were randomly selected in urban and rural areas. They were asked to select the most important landscape benefits for their personal wellbeing from a predetermined list, and to identify up land covers that provided the most important benefits for their personal wellbeing. The results show that the most important land covers and local landscapes for the majority of respondents were mature pine forests, old-growth forests, wood-pastures, lakes, and rural farmsteads. To maintain functional GI three land management strategies should be kept: to diversify forest management in order to maintain attractive forests as a source of multiple ES for human well-being; to develop functional protected area networks to sustain the provision of ES associated with old-growth forests; and to maintain traditional agroforestry practices in wood-pastures.


Benedict MA., McMahon ET. (2002). Green infrastructure: smart conservation for the 21th century. Renewable Resources Journal, 20, 12–17.
European Commission. (2013). Green Infrastructure (GI) — Enhancing Europe’s Natural Capital. COM 249
Lafortezza, R., Carru G., Sanesi G., & Davies, C . (2009). Benefits and well-being perceived by people visiting green spaces in periods of heat stress. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 8, 97–108.
Lafortezza, R., Davies, C., Sanesi, G., & Konijnendijk, C. (2013). Green infrastructure as a tool to support spatial planning in European urban regions. iForest, 6, 102–108.

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