The development of land for residential, commercial, industrial and institutional uses is increasing at a rapid pace in our state. This development and the associated man-made infrastructure needed to support it has reduced, fragmented, and degraded our ecosystems. The long-term survival of native plants and wildlife and certain industries depends on a clean, healthy environment to provide necessary natural resources.
The greatest threat to Delaware’s Green Infrastructure is sprawl development. Left unprotected, our remaining Green Infrastructure is vulnerable and will be further reduced and fragmented.
Why is a Green Infrastructure Important?
The clearing of land associated with development activities can add chemicals, sediments, and other substances that degrade water quality. Our waterways are continually threatened by pollutants carried by runoff from residential and commercial development. Loss and fragmentation of habitat diminishes biodiversity, which results in declining numbers of species – and individuals within those species -- that survive.
The competing elements of man-made infrastructure can impede natural processes and threaten the health of the environment. Development in working lands, wetlands, and riparian zones can reduce their capacity to perform their natural functions—the flow and filtering of water that reduces toxins and excess nutrients, the control of flooding, and the support of wildlife and plant species—and a variety of natural processes needed to maintain a healthy environment.
The impact of unmanaged growth and sprawl will decrease nature's ability to respond to environmental changes. Short term changes - like flooding and drought - and long-term environmental trends - including species extinction - can result when conservation practices are not incorporated into land use planning and man-made infrastructure improvements.
In addition to maintaining a healthy ecosystem, green infrastructure is important to our quality of life. Green spaces provide beauty, relaxation and recreation. They serve as outdoor classrooms for our children. They are essential to our well being.
This wetland at Christ-the-Teacher school near Glasgow creates an excellent "outdoor classroom" to teach students, as well as parents and other members of the community, the fundamental principles of ecology and the importance of environmental stewardship. In addition, it enhances the aesthetic value of the area and realizes a cost savings by eliminating maintenance of the grass area.