Natural Systems

ASLA 2014 Honor Award, General Design Category. Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park by Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi. Image: Wade Zimmerman.

ASLA 2014 Honor Award, General Design Category. Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park by Thomas Balsley Associates and Weiss/Manfredi. Image: Wade Zimmerman.

According to Smart Policies for a Changing Climate: The Report and Recommendations of the ASLA Blue Ribbon Panel on Climate Change and Resilience, designing and planning in concert with natural systems promotes resilience, capitalizes on the multiple benefits provided by natural systems, and provides greater long-term return on investment than conventional development.

Design and planning solutions must also address biohabitat to ensure plant and animal communities remain resilient in the face of climate impacts.

The report provided a summary of the following solutions and recommendations.

  • Provide dedicated funding for green stormwater infrastructure.
  • Require new development to retain stormwater on site.
  • Incentivize planting of locally/regionally appropriate and biodiversity-supporting vegetation; require planting of pollinator-friendly vegetation on public lands.
  • Protect and enhance natural vegetative buffers, including wetlands and water’s edge plantings, along coastlines and inland waterways.
  • Prioritize retention and expansion of green space; address inequities in access to open space and recreation.
  • Adopt a national urban and suburban tree planting strategy to preserve and expand tree canopy.
  • Promote or require water conservation and water reuse technologies.
  • Adopt a national water strategy to protect critical water sources.
  • Incentivize healthy soil management practices.
  • Preserve wildlands.
  • Assess climate change risks to biodiversity and promote greenways and biocorridors for plant and animal migration.

Have you worked with communities to implement these strategies? Let us know about your own recommendations, successes, and challenges.