A new model could improve success of ‘greening’ projects

Researchers analysing the success of urban ‘greening’ projects have concluded that projects tend to ignore the social and environmental impacts of the schemes, focusing instead on economic outcomes; often from the perspective of the developer. Continuous and focused monitoring of green developments, along with a greater emphasis on involving all stakeholders, could improve the success of greening projects.

Brownfield sites, land previously used but now vacant or derelict, are often the target for land-use policy, with schemes aiming to regenerate these sites to provide social and amenity benefits in urban areas. Researchers developed a ‘logic model’ which describes brownfield greening projects in terms of inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes (or indirect outputs). Outputs could include the area of land regenerated and facilities provided, and outcomes could include biodiversity targets and cohesive communities.

The model was applied to six case studies of brownfield greening – aiming to establish trees, woodlands and quality green space with amenity value. In many cases, public surveys indicated dissatisfaction with outcomes of the projects; spaces were not used by diverse groups and there were aesthetic and design problems. In one case, the development phase of the project had not been completed, which led to poor tree health.

The researchers conclude that urban greening projects should incorporate a greater focus on outcomes and a flexible monitoring process involving a range of stakeholders, in order to maximise success.

Doick, K.J., Sellers, G. Caston-Broto, V. & Silverthorne, T. (2009). Understanding success in the context of brownfield greening projects: The requirement for outcome evaluation in urban greenspace success assessment. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 8:163-178.