In recent years, as environmental issues increasingly permeate the urban discourse, the more holistic term “sustainability” has become a watchword internationally. Numerous appraisal frameworks, sustainability indicators and rating tools of varying effectiveness have been developed to gauge the effectiveness of sustainability interventions.
Urban ecology is arguably one of the main approaches for formulating and assessing sustainable urban development, policy and management. Although there are several methods to evaluate urban ecosystems, an integrated assessment system which addresses the range of ecosystem services necessary to maximise sustainability outcomes remains elusive. “Green” infrastructure, as distinct from conventional “grey” infrastructure, is an emerging concept linked to natural and designed ecosystems and the services they provide. While it is difficult to have one universal definition for green infrastructure, it is generally recognised as embracing all the natural, semi-natural and engineered networks of multifunctional ecological systems within, around and between urban areas at all temporal and spatial scales.
This paper proposes a methodology and a conceptual framework for evaluating green infrastructure performance, derived initially from the literature and adapted for the Australian context by incorporating the results from a semi-structured interview process involving twenty one selected Australian practitioners and researchers. This proposed framework combines three key themes: ecosystem services, human health and wellbeing and ecosystem health. It helps to provide a basis for determining specific indicators to describe the measured phenomena pertinent to green infrastructure performance and serves as a foundation for a proposed indicator-based assessment model in future studies.
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