climate change action – what is the role of greenspace?
Climate change is one of the major challenges facing Scottish towns and cities and the people who live in them. Across Scotland, climate change will generally mean that we have warmer and wetter winters, hotter and drier summers, rising sea levels and more extreme weather.
Scottish Government policy clearly outlines the need for action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases through changes in technology and in lifestyles. It also highlights the need, regardless of how effective we are in reducing emissions, to take action to cope with the consequences of the climate change which is already happening.
Greenspaces and green networks have the potential to contribute to both these sets of actions. Work has already begun (both in terms of policy and action) in some areas. There are, however, some significant barriers to developing ‘climate change greenspaces’. The challenges and barriers often relate to a lack of knowledge and understanding both of climate change and of the potential for greenspace.
In 2011, greenspace scotland produced the report Developing the role of greenspace in climate change mitigation and adaptation. This highlighted the need for better examples of action from Scotland and for greater partnership working, including support for communities to play a more significant role in identifying and delivering changes. It also noted that whilst work is ongoing to incorporate green infrastructure into new developments and large scale regeneration projects; the greater challenge is to increase the climate change resilience of existing spaces and places.
The current phase of the project is taking forward work on a series of Scottish exemplars looking at the potential for changes in the design and management of greenspace and public spaces to contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation. There are four strands to the programme: creating a climate change park; generating renewable heat from greenspace: urban greening in streets and other hard landscapes and work on wider community resilience in the face of climate change - looking at the scale of whole neighbourhoods and larger.