At a Glance
Community needs and ecosystem health are integrated in a regional planning effort that prioritizes opportunity areas and strategies for implementation building on momentum and partners.
Across the country, communities are seeing the potential to connect natural systems to communities as a key way to address environmental, economic, and social challenges. In the greater Kansas City area, the Mid-America Regional Council recognizes green infrastructure planning as a way to improve human health and well-being by increasing access to green space, reducing susceptibility to flooding, and improving habitat, air, and water quality. To create a regional green infrastructure planning framework, Biohabitats worked with BNIM to establish ecological health and processes at the heart of the region’s cultural and economic fabric. To do this, Biohabitats conducted a system inventory and synthesized existing resource data into a single overlay map of high value natural resources. A prioritization model was then developed that integrated the high value resources with areas of pressure and community needs. The resulting “heat maps” were shared with community stakeholders to identify other potential catalysts for implementation. These factors included proximity to trails, schools, or other recreation amenities, accessibility, and momentum where projects were planned, started, or partners were in place.
The resulting Phase 1 Green Infrastructure Framework has a three-tiered structure. At the highest level is a series of regional-scale maps called the Atlas, which highlights priority areas based on values and needs. The next tier zooms into the watershed-scale, and presents a playbook for implementation. Phase 2, completed in 2017, included refinement of the Atlas and two pilot projects in the Playbook. These examples of opportunity areas are highlighted to show the places with the greatest potential for an integrated green infrastructure approach as well as example strategies for connection, partnerships, benefits, and metrics. As part of the process, the consulting team also researched policy examples and regional solutions that offered lessons learned and recommended tools to build political support and context for successful outcomes. As a follow up, the project team also developed metrics to track resiliency and report progress associated with green infrastructure. As part of this effort, Biohabitats helped develop the baseline indicators for evaluating flood risk reduction, water quality Improvement, habitat improvement and climate protection, and improved access to nature in economically vulnerable communities.
Dissected Till Plains
Climate Change, Community, Conservation, Ecological Restoration, Infrastructure, Urban Ecology, Water
Mid-America Regional Council
Kansas City, Missouri, United States