IMAGINE – Integrated Management of Green Infrastructure

In five European countries (Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, and Estonia) the joint project IMAGINE investigates how sustainably managing green infrastructure can succeed on a regional and landscape level. Green infrastructure comprises natural areas (e.g. peatland) and semi-natural areas (e.g. pasture area) as well as artificially created elements in nature (e.g. green bridges).

Research approach

The overarching goal of the joint project is to develop an integrated framework for the assessment, management and for legal and organizational instruments dealing with the regulation of green infrastructure. Here, ISOE is responsible for the work package that focusses on the use and regulation of green infrastructure.

As a first step, relevant stakeholders will be determined. The analysis comprises the identification of actors and will address the actors’ valuation of certain ecosystem services. Utilization, access and possible conflicting goals being the consequence of usage will be taken into account. Ecosystem disservices – ecosystem services that cause harm to society – will also be taken into account in this context. The result will provide an overview of relevant stakeholders who are directly affected by aspects of supply, use, demand, access to and allocation of the investigated ecosystem service.

As a second step, the use of and access to ecosystem services will be scrutinized from a socio-cultural perspective. Interactions between stakeholders and green infrastructure as well as possible resulting conflicts will be identified. Moreover, on various administrative levels an analysis will be carried out of existing policy and regulating instruments. The assessment includes an inventory of property rights and the associated governance structures that guarantee those rights. As a final step, context-specific practical recommendations for management and politics will be derived from the results.

The outcomes of this work package contribute to strengthen the social-ecological nature of the joint project as a whole. They provide the basis for further model-based analyses and contribute to the development of sustainable management approaches for green infrastructure.


Green infrastructure is defined as a strategically planned network of natural, semi-natural and artificially created areas with the aim to efficiently secure and improve the environment for humans while maintaining biodiversity. The backbones of green infrastructure are protected areas like the Natura-2000-Areas, National Parks or core and buffer zones of Biosphere Reserves. Water meadows, green spaces in rural and urban areas as well as artificially created structures like green bridges and rooftop gardens are also part of it. Green infrastructure takes up a variety of functions: It serves to protect biodiversity, to improve ecological processes (e.g. as corridors for migrating animal and plant species) and to support ecosystem services for humans (e.g. protection against heat waves, particularly in urban areas).

For a sustainable development of urban and rural areas green infrastructure is of great importance. But currently the state of research is still fragmented. The international IMAGINE project addresses this knowledge gap and thus contributes to a comprehensive understanding of green infrastructure and the possibilities of its management.

More information and transfer products

Website IMAGINE 
Information sheet

Project partners

  • IRSTEA – National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture, France (Coordinator)
  • Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMU), Estonia
  • Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Belgium
  • Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany
  • Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA), Norway


  • BiodivERsA
  • For Germany: BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research)


Mortelmans, Dieter/Thomas Fickel/Edward Ott/Francis Turkelboom/Marion Mehring/Monika Suškevics/Philip K. Roche (2021): IMAGINE COOKBOOK SERIES N°5 Policy Coherence analysis (PoICA): methodological approach.


2017/02 – 2020/11