When Cities Grow Wild - Natural Landscaping from an Urban Planning Perspective

by John Ingram

3.3 Conclusions

Some local governments have done much to mainstream the concept and practice of natural landscaping. From creating a permissive regulatory environment for local landowners to establish native gardens to leading the general public through initiatives on municipally maintained land, many cities have developed comprehensive strategies which see them take the roles of practitioner, promoter and facilitator for the practise. It is these municipalities in particular which can act as role models for cities such Halifax which have yet to even develop policy on the subject.

As the past chapter has demonstrated, however, even those cities with comprehensive policies and programs in place still face many obstacles to realizing the full potential of natural landscaping in an urban environment. What exactly a comprehensive strategy can achieve in terms of ecological, fiscal and societal benefits remains to be seen. So too, does whether or not the obstacles to the universal development and implementation of comprehensive natural landscaping strategies can be overcome. Still as exemplified by the variety of approaches taken in adopting natural landscaping as public policy, so too will there be many ways by which the remaining constraints can be overcome.

With the background now in place, therefore, the following chapter moves to the specific research question laid out at the beginning of the thesis. That is, what are the barriers and opportunities for the adoption of a natural landscaping strategy for Halifax Regional Municipality?

ing314.jpg (35960 bytes)Figure 3.14

Naturalized Cul-de-Sac - Eagan, Minnesota

(source: Urban Land Institute, 1994)

Notes

24. Amongst the natural landscaping movement itself, such names as Lorrie Otto, Sandy Bell, Bret Rappaport, Stevie Daniels, Lorraine Johnson, Michael Hough, William Granger and Sarah Stein stand out as significant contributors.

25. Sequentially, some of the more significant dates for natural landscaping are as follows: 1979, Wild Ones Natural Landscapers, Ltd. a design, advocacy and resource group formed in Milwaukee; 1982, the National Wildlife Federation began a natural habitat certification program, the Backyard Wildlife Program (a program which now boasts almost 20,000 registered habitats with approximately 1,000 new sites registered every year); 1983, National Wildflower Research Center founded in Austin, Texas by Ladybird Johnson as a wildflower and native plant advocacy and research organization; 1984 the Canadian Wildflower Society founded and its magazine, Wildflower launched in Toronto; 1994 the US White House released an executive memorandum on beneficial landscaping which promotes natural landscaping on federal properties; 1996 Sandy Bell of Toronto won Charter of Rights and Freedoms protection for practice of natural landscaping in an Ontario court case (Reed, 1994; Rappaport, 1993).

26. The words ordinance and by-law are taken to mean the same thing and are used interchangeably. Typically, ordinance is the preferred descriptor in American cases, and by-law in Canada.

27. One of the EPAs regional working groups, fittingly in the natural landscaping hotbed of the American Midwest, has already developed a comprehensive natural landscaping resource page on the internet and a complementary kit for public officials which it developed in conjunction with the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission.

28. Typically, roadside areas receive an annual mowing or prescribed burn to prevent natural succession from turning the verges into forested areas.

29. Xeriscaping is the practice of using native low-water consuming plants adapted to drought conditions for landscaping purposes.

30. A conversation with the individual responsible for the Lakeshore Drive project indicated that despite the intense environmental challenges the site presents -- extremely high traffic volumes (six lanes), tremendous exposure to road salt in the winter and exposure to intense offshore winds -- that the site has done very well. The responsible authority considers it a landscape in evolution (Susan Malec, Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Environment for the City of Chicago, 1998)

31. There is a strong political and public will to restore and create prairie landscapes in Illinois.Although the state considers itself Americas Prairie State, native prairie landscapes have been reduced to less than 1% of their original range.

32. Court documents in the Sandy Bell natural landscaping case estimate that there are between two and three thousand private naturalized gardens in Toronto.

33. Fast growing Vancouver is experiencing incrementally more severe summertime water shortages and is also facing potential legal action over its environmentally destructive storm water management policies.

34. Originally, the greenways program was to restore natural drainage in certain areas and re-landscape entire boulevard sections with native grasses, shrubs and trees to form viable linear biodiversity corridors.

35. There is a current project involving the U.S. federal government and the Audubon Society that intends to naturalize a portion of the White House lawn (Rappaport, 1998).

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