Strategies for Urban Ecological Restoration

The Department of Conservation defines ecological restoration as “the process of re-establishing a self-sustaining habitat or ecosystem similar to what is likely to have existed prior to human contact, and the reintroduction of native fauna and flora and the eradication or control of pests.”
Ecological restoration usually involves a variety of projects such as 

● reforestation and revegetation using indigenous, native species of plants, trees and bushes
● removal of weeds and other non-native species
● habitat and range improvements

Ecological restoration is often implemented in rural communities where it’s possible to restore large areas and the benefits of ecological restoration are immediately visible. However, it’s seldom implemented in urban areas due to space and logistical constraints. There’s also the issue of how viable restoration efforts would be in an urban setting with factors like human activity and climate change come into play.

But ecological restoration is exactly what urban areas need. Eco-cities that co-exist with the natural ecosystem tend to be healthier and more sustainable. It is a perfect system for urban areas because it:

1. consumes fewer resources, 
2. produces less waste, 
3. is powered by sustainable resources, 
4. mitigates the impact of climate change and
5. provides a level of sufficiency that protects urban dwellers from catastrophic events.

Urban ecological restoration is challenging but not impossible. The goal with urban ecological restoration is to design a city that caters to sustainable population and ecological growth. It’s not just about turning a city greener. It’s about making a city and all its residents healthier, allowing both native plants and city dwellers to thrive even in an urban environment. 

In Auckland, for example, part of the challenge of making their city among the greenest in the world is the increasing number of inhabitants in the area, enabling Chief Sustainability Officer John Mauro to quip recently, “If the city is going to be a desirable place to live, we need to not only have housing that’s affordable and easy transport connections, we need to have green space.” It is only then that we consider human activity with ecological restoration that development will take place. 

Urban ecological restoration doesn’t have to be done in one massive step. It can be done incrementally in a number of ways: 

Roads - Instead of emphasizing high volume roads with equally high speed arterials, they can be toned down, converting into a two-way road but widening certain footpaths. They can be converted into a streetscape along parks and cafes, encouraging more public transport and pedestrian traffic.

Residential areas - Subdivisions with cabbage trees and other native plants as vegetation. A barren piece of land in the middle of the subdivision can be used as recreation area like a mini park or urban garden with trees planted along the road for some shade. Condominium units can provide spaces for window gardens and rooftop mini-forests. Rooftops and roof decks can be used as small scale solar or wind farms to supplement the city’s energy supply.

Parks - Small wetlands inside parks can be developed and restored into fishing or ornamental ponds. Mini gardens, native plant nurseries, and habitats for wild animals as well as observatories are installed. 

Office buildings - For new buildings, they should conform with LEED standards. For older buildings, mini gardens can be built just outside the lobby and along walkways. For all building, provisions for sustainable energy and wastewater management should be provided by building owners.

Urban farms - A large native plant nursery, greenhouse gardens as well as conservatories of rare exotic plant and animal species can be found in urban farms. 

This would be a daunting task for any city but with the right planning, implementation and resource, urban ecological restoration can be done effectively and efficiently. With public support, government initiative, and the expertise of partners like Rural Design, it’s possible to create a healthy green cities all over the country within our lifetime

The Benefits of Rural Landscaping For Communities

Rural landscaping is the solution for subdivisions in need of aesthetic and functional enhancement. As a property owner, applying rural landscaping to your property not only saves you enough but it increase the value of your land without drastically altering its natural features.

Quoting from our landscaping philosophy, “Creating a sustainably productive environment comes from understanding the relationship between the land and its people. Understanding the natural purpose of the land and the needs of its inhabitants is essential in creating a landscape architectural design.” With this in mind, we believe that a sustainable and productive environment for subdivisions can be accomplished with professionally planned and executed rural landscaping. 

Rural landscaping is different from a conventional landscaping system in many ways. With rural landscaping, landowners don’t need to make major changes to the structure of the land to develop it. Using and enhancing existing resources to create a more rural atmosphere within subdivision units can increase its aesthetic and functional value over time. It helps the environment and provides countless benefits for the community.

Here are just some of the benefits your subdivision property can have with rural landscaping.

Increase Economic Development

Rural landscaping increases the economic development of your property. The process of planning, designing and implementing rural look to your subdivision involves so many people in the process; from assigning personnel to handle the planting of native plants to convincing clients to take closer look at that enhanced property. This entire process will create more jobs, and more business opportunities in return for the community.     

Introduce New Housing Markets

With the increase in economic development for the community, rural landscaping also introduces the subdivision to new housing markets. The rustic, natural look with make it more attractive to potential homeowners. And the improving economic conditions also means more people involved in the community can afford to buy a home.

Bring Jobs To The Area

Rural landscaping creates jobs in return. It generates jobs before and after the rural landscaping. The improved economic conditions with the influx of new businesses and homeowners, which in turn creates more employment opportunities. 

Establish Better Use of Lands

With careful planning, better land use is achieved. 1) You can utilize your fertile land for farming or revegetation. 2) You can allocate lands preserving protected plants and habitats and get government grants. 3) You can plan for future use of certain areas of the land and provide room for development like more subdivision units, roads and drainages, etc.    

Offer More Community Services

Community services to maintain the rural landscape and create community gardens for food, commercial use or leisure is a great way to give back to the community. Protecting cultural, historical, and environmental areas is a great way of supporting community education and preservation of cultural treasures. Enhancing your subdivision with rural landscaping enables you to create gardens and fountains within the area, where you can plant protected native plants like cabbage trees or the manuka.

Establish Recreation Areas

Establishing a recreational area is one of the better ways of enticing potential homeowners to buy. A piece of barren land can be turned into a park with rural landscaping, where people can gather, jog, or have picnics. Improving a piece of land by having a nursery or a lake into a fishing area will add more color to your subdivision property. 

Preserve The Feel of Their Community and Historical Offerings

Landowners can also preserve the natural feel of their property with rural landscaping by helping preserve historical/cultural artifacts in their land, like Maori carvings or tribal areas. These sculptures enriches the look of your property while helping establish a good relationship with the indigenous community.

All in all, rural landscaping is more than just creating an idyllic, homey look for a community. It’s about establishing harmony with the environment so everyone living within the community; the people, plants, and animals, can have a home and peacefully co-exist with each other. Rural landscaping is about creating a community that thrives by respecting the needs of everyone living in it