Ayrshire's economic activity has traditionally focussed upon agriculture, forestry and heavy industry. These activities have impacted upon the quality of the natural environment in Ayrshire and have affected the services that this environment can provide for local people. With the demise of heavy engineering and deep coal mining, many of the rural and urban areas in Ayrshire have experienced structural economic decline. The regeneration of these communities is, therefore, a key challenge for the local authorities and other agencies.
The Ayrshire Joint Planning Unit recognised the importance of green infrastructure to the wider regeneration of the area. In early 2011, it commissioned a study to examine how the Green Network concept could be taken forward within Ayrshire. This study was carried out by TGP Landscape Architects, MD2 and Mersey Forest.
The study utilised complex GIS mapping to identify existing green infrastructure assets throughout Ayrshire. GIS was also used to ascertain what functions different areas currently performed and to highlight where there was the need to improve the function of an area.
The initial GIS mapping stage was followed by a process of analysis. This process involved the identification of broad areas and initiatives that would directly contribute to the development of a high quality green network in Ayrshire.
The recommendations made in the study seek to enhance the landscape setting of Ayrshire and link its fragmented greenspace. It suggests improvements to degraded environments and supports a more positive attitude towards the public realm, as measured by reduced litter and vandalism, and increased public use.
The path network improvements recommended in the study will increase opportunities for recreation and active travel. This will contribute towards a more active community and improved awareness of lifestyle patterns.
The study promotes investment in green spaces and active travel, thus contributing to the development a low-carbon economy and the mitigation of the effects of climate change.
"This information and approach is of great value to us as an organisation. It can help signpost where intervention needs to be targeted to develop our resources to maximum effect."
John Esslemont, Manager, Ayrshire Joint Planning Unit
The study makes use of mapped data that is readily available to local authorities and can be replicated over time. It highlights existing green network assets and identifies opportunities to strengthen the network on a spatial basis at a variety of geographic scales.
The GIS mapping model will be further developed through a joint project with the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Partnership. This project will look at landscape scale 'ecosystem services' provided within the Core, Buffer and Transition zones of the Biosphere.
|2011||CSGN Development Fund||23,000|