Greening Infrastructure

Communities, land-use planners, and conservation professionals use the Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision (GIV) to inform their land-use planning. The GIV identifies 1.4 million acres that can be restored, protected, or connected through conservation and thoughtful, sustainable development practices. The GIV guides the protection and development of an accessible, interconnected network of healthy ecosystems that contribute to economic vitality and quality of life for all the region’s residents.

Chicago Wilderness members and communities implement the Vision at four scales:

  • Regional, by working with regional planning agencies to redefine how we think about sustainability and community health by incorporating conservation development principles and natural resource preservation into land use and transportation plans.
  • Community, by incorporating principles of biodiversity conservation, sustainability, and people-friendly design into land use plans and ordinances.
  • Neighborhood, by promoting the preservation of natural spaces, conservation design and access to nature into developing and re-developing communities, and
  • Site, by promoting native landscaping, the use of rain gardens and rain barrels, and the greening of schoolyards and other community open spaces.


SWAT: The Sustainable Watershed Action Team

Land-use decisions are made at the local level in our region, and local officials have clearly expressed their need for technical assistance in addressing the tremendous growth pressures that threaten their communities’ natural resources and our regional green infrastructure.

To address that need,Chicago Wilderness created the Sustainable Watershed Action Team (SWAT). SWAT is an innovative partnership that delivers sustainable planning and customized technical assistance to help communities develop local plans, adopt protective ordinances, and implement sustainable development practices.

SWAT is composed of experts in planning, engineering, storm water management, and other professions who work directly with local officials and developers on specific planning or development projects.  This direct, hands-on outreach is a critical approach in protecting our green infrastructure and ensuring the health and sustainability of our communities and our region into the future.

Contact Chris Mulvaney, Chicago Wilderness Restoration & Green Infrastructure Coordinator, for more information on SWAT.

On the Ground: Green Infrastructure Plans

Explore the links below for examples of green infrastructure plans that Chicago Wilderness helped local communities develop:

Mapping and planning projects have also been completed with the City of Woodstock and City of Lakewood. 

Other current green infrastructure project include Kane County, Kishwaukee (Winnebago County), Midlothian Creek, and the 36 communities in the Millennium Reserve.

Tools for Land-Use Planners

The Chicago Wilderness Vision was recently updated and GIS data is now available to inform land-use planning efforts in ways that will help communities sustain their natural resources.  The data is available through the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning at