Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 15–35 | Cite as

Towards a comprehensive green infrastructure typology: a systematic review of approaches, methods and typologies



There is no consensus on a comprehensive classification for green infrastructure (GI). This is a consequence of the diversity of disciplines, application contexts, methods, terminologies, purposes and valuation criteria for which a GI typology is required. The aim of this systematic literature review is to evaluate the existing evidence on how GI is being categorised and characterised worldwide. We reviewed a total of 85 studies from 15 countries that were analysed for contextual trends, methods, parameters and typologies. Results show that relevant literature lacks a common terminology and that a universal typology for all scenarios is impractical. Analysis reveals that GI can be organised into four main GI categories: (a) tree canopy, (b) green open spaces, (c) green roofs and (d) vertical greenery systems (facades/walls). Green open spaces and tree canopy attracted the attention of researchers due to their complexity, variability and important roles in GI planning. Evidence suggests that a ternary approach in terms of the functional (purpose, use, services), structural (morphology) and configurational (spatial arrangements) attributes of GI should be applied for a more comprehensive classification. Although this approximation is inherently generic, since it can be used across different research disciplines, it is also sufficiently specific to be implemented for individual scopes, scenarios and settings. Further research is needed to develop a typology capable of responding to particular research aims and performance analyses based upon the findings discussed in this paper.


Urban greening Classification schemes Typologies Systematic review Ecosystem services Spatial scales 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Built Environment - UNSW; Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRC-LCL)SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Built Environment - UNSWSydneyAustralia

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