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ALTER-Net: A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network

Europe’s ecosystem research network


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MEP to talk at joint ALTER-Net/PEER conference session ◄A►

Ms Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP will be one of the speakers at the Euroscience Open Forum conference session on green infrastructure being co-organised by ALTER-Net and PEER.


Green infrastructure links natural, semi-natural and urban features, areas and spaces together. It provides both ecological as well as societal well being, and resilience against dramatic changes. It provides us with cultural ecosystem services such as possibilities for recreation, inspiration, learning and spiritual gains.

But where can we find green infrastructure that supports sustainability and maintains its cultural ecosystem services? Can energy production from forests be sustainable and support recreational purposes? Which green infrastructure tolerates climate change and helps to forward positive transformations to cultural ecosystem services? These are jsut some of the questions we hope to address during the session.

PietikäinenWe talk to Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP about green infrastructure

Ms Pietikäinen has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2008 and was a Member of the Finnish Parliament for 20 years. We recently asked her about her perspective on green infrastructure:

What is your professional background?

I have a Master's Degree in Economics from the Helsinki School of Economics. In my earlier career as a politician, I was MP in the Finnish Parliament as well as Minister for Environment in the 90s. For the first half of this parliamentary term, I was a member of the environment committee of the European Parliament. I am chair of Globe EU.

What do you understand by ‘green infrastructure’?

I see green Infrastructure being a multi-dimensional issue which aims at providing ecosystem services. It has micro and macro levels, it can be understood in quantitative and qualitative terms. Leaving one third of building sites untouched - free for wild habitat - is a good example of micro level green infrastructure whilst on a macro level we plan cities where storm drains and connectedness of green areas provide added value for the citizens as well as for biodiversity.

How important is green infrastructure in our personal life?

It is very important. One good concrete example of green infrastructure's positive influence on our health is the fact that when people are hospitalised, the landscape they see from their hospital beds has to do with their recovery - according to some research, hospitalised people who have green and enjoyable landscape recover more quickly.

Can you describe some examples where current European policy is helping to protect green infrastructure and use it sustainably?

The European Commission is working on a Green Infrastucture Strategy for the EU and this is a very important initiative.

What more can Europe do to protect its green infrastructure?

The EU should have more competence in land use and physical planning as the planning phase is the most crucial step in achieving greener human environments.

How important do you think scientific research is, in order to help us protect green infrastructure?

I see research as very important in relation to green infrastructure. Also, applied research should be strengthened as it provides models and other practical information for decision-makers and administration.


Ms Pietikäinen will talk about these issues during the ALTER-Net/PEER conference session. We look forward to welcoming her to the session and we hope you will join us there.

More details

  • See the PEER website for an interview with Prof. Ilkka Hanski, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Helsinki, who will also be speaking at the conference session.
  • The ALTER-Net/PEER session at ESOF 2012 is entitled “Sustainable green infrastructure: in seas and forests, from fields to cities”. Through contributions and debate from different disciplinary angles, the session will introduce novel ways of conceptualising the nature-human relationship by linking ecological theories of sustainability into everyday life of human societies. The session will consider future directions for conservation and sustainability research and will provide food for thought on the governance of European green infrastructure.
  • Date and time: Sunday 15 July during the 13.15 sessions
  • ESOF 2012 website: