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Old 01-13-2012, 01:14 PM   #1
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An interesting series of articles on biodiversity and landscape architecture. I like seeing this discussed and this blog is a good source for reference materials. Books and names of people in the forefront of industry making waves about the environment and ecology.

Designing for the Full Range of Biodiversity The Dirt

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As Beardsley outlined in the symposium brief (see earlier post), the world is now undergoing a new wave of extinctions. To preserve species, landscape architects will need to work with biologists, ecologists, and other scientists to recreate wildlife habitat. This will involve complex issues like ”sizing and spacing habitat patches and ecosystems,” productive habitat creation, and restoration ecology. There may also be trade-offs between preservation and restoration.
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Furthermore, while designing wildlife habitats, the science can’t be so artful that it’s no longer functional. The model must be “complex, adaptable,” and science can provide a set of parameters
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Lastly, “we must ask why are we recreating habitat? Can these designs be agents of broader ecological change? Are we restoring for educational reasons, or to generate ecosystem services? Do we value diversity for its own sake?” There are a range of philosophical issues
Restoring the Balance between People and Nature through Wildlife Habitat Design The Dirt

Recreating Wildlife Habitat in Cities The Dirt

Shahid Naeem author of...
Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functioning, and Human Wellbeing: An Ecological and Economic Perspective
http://www.amazon.com/Biodiversity-E...0&sr=1-3-fkmr1

Quote:
Species loss affects ecosystem function. Naeem said recent analyses demonstrate that “preserving as much biodiversity as possible” is the best path. To prove this, ecologists must “bring reality into the system,” and apply real world variables into their models. This involves taking managed or restored ecosystems to a higher-level of biodiversity function.
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Old 01-13-2012, 10:17 PM   #2
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Lots of reading matter in there. This caught my eye:
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On an aesthetic level, it means moving to “messy, complex landscapes” that embrace biodiversity. “We don’t need any more domesticated, pretty gardens.” In fact, Yu believes people should “embrace the messy.”
My wife reminded me just today, "I hope you won't let the front yard get so unkempt as you did at the last place." There-in lies the conflict.
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Old 01-14-2012, 05:37 PM   #3
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Here's my favorite quote from the first article in The Dirt:

Naeem asked: “What if fungi could send us a bill? What if microbes could unionize? They are working all the time.”

Landscape Architects have been wrestling with these concepts for a long time. Witness Ian McHarg's "Design With Nature" written in 1969, the concept of ecology in landscape design really took hold after that seminal work. There are many philosophical ideas out there concerning the relationships between culture and nature, they could fill volumes. The complexity of the issues is monumental, I'm glad to see it's being addressed, especially on the practical level.
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by benj1:
Lots of reading matter in there. This caught my eye:
Quote:
On an aesthetic level, it means moving to “messy, complex landscapes” that embrace biodiversity. “We don’t need any more domesticated, pretty gardens.” In fact, Yu believes people should “embrace the messy.”
My wife reminded me just today, "I hope you won't let the front yard get so unkempt as you did at the last place." There-in lies the conflict.
This seems to be a core part of the problem. Changing cultural norms is really difficult. If some of these highly respected architects can design and build some small scale landscape projects that support the idea of "embrace the messy" it could go a long way towards changing people's attitudes.

Here's another WG thread that addresses this issue:
To truly appreciate the beauty of a natural landscape, look through nature's eyes
To truly appreciate the beauty of a natural landscape, look through nature's eyes.
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Old 01-15-2012, 09:48 AM   #5
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Right now, Felson argued, “LEED has no design aesthetic.” Sustainability has not settled on a design aesthetic yet. “The messy, complex landscape” Yu Kongjian discussed may provide a model. But this model then needs to be turned into a design template that can be plugged in. “We need working design practices, scales of application, and ecological planning.” Furthermore, there’s a real challenge in conveying these ideas to the broader public: “biodiversity is still not widely understood, or even as understood as ecosystem services.” To combat a public lack of understanding, we need “narratives, stories we can tell.”
Felson pointed out the Sustainable Sites Initiative, but argued there are no credits for wildlife biodiversity in the new sustainable landscapes rating system. While SITES is not designed to be a wildlife biodiversity rating system, it still presents a real model for designing sustainable habitats, with restored soils, water systems, and native plants, which can then draw diverse species.

-excerpt from Recreating Wildlife Habitat in Cities The Dirt


Landscape Architecture as a profession is striving to come up with a design model for sustainable site design and wildlife ecology, a sort of "plug and play" if you will. Given the complexity of the task it's a huge undertaking. These speakers deal mostly with large scale or regional projects but there are some LAs who are addressing the smaller scale residential level perceptions of culture/nature. Joan Nassauer at the University of Minnesota is one of those researchers that studies perceptions of what is considered correct by using "cues to care", I think we've discussed those issue here in just considering mow paths around native plantings, etc. This is an interesting paper she published in Landscape Journal entitled "Messy Ecosystems, Orderly Frames."
http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/jrnl/1995/nc_1995_nassauer_001.pdf

I wish the photos were clearer and not scanned so you could compare them yourself.

Wild Ones picked up on her research and wrote an article for their last newletter issue. They are huge advocates for people trying to "beat City Hall" when it comes to landscaping ordinances.
http://www.for-wild.org/download/cuestocare.pdf
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Old 01-15-2012, 01:57 PM   #6
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What an excellent read on human perceptions of care and attractiveness you have linked to above.
I had not read that pdf file. thank you for bringing it to attention. So much information.
Again,
http://www.ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/jrnl/1995/nc_1995_nassauer_001.pdf
Read this if you have not, it is very good.
The charts on what is described as attractive or unattractive within the achievment of particular goals is very helpful in understanding how cultural lenses cloud our seeing the landscapes around us. Being able to use these cues without compromising ecological function, but instead allowing people to see human intent in a different setting is something I can understand. I think we all agree with the idea that many do not want this messy look because they think others will not like it and change their opinions about the character of the offending neighbor.

Could getting to know our neighbors better, joining into the active community so that we are recognized as citizens with good intentions rather than just as individuals out to thwart convention also help in this changing of the recognition of the cues to a cared for environment? What do you think might help?

Quote:
City council, park board and task force members,and the engineers who were involved in the process that recommended construction referred to the new features as wetlands.
Citizens who lived near the grassy open spaces that were the proposed construction sites, referred to them as swamps.
Quote:
Nature is a cultural concept that is frequently mistaken as an indication of ecological quality.
It has no specific appearance in form and may be applied to a canopied (trees)urban plaza or cultivated field as to a wilderness.
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