Urban Landscape Management

Lecture Week 12 by Paul Osmond

Managing the Sustainable Built Environment: Urban Landscape Management

“In the US, [and Australia] more than 80% of the population resides, works, and plays in environments intentionally created and managed by humans…

Landscape management reaches far beyon landscape maintenance. It covers aesthetics/design, environmental processes, political processes, resources and finances, technologies, social/cultural/recreational aspects, land use planning etc.

Intensity of management input (from high to low)

  • Domestic gardens
  • Community gardens/allotments
  • High quality sports turf
  • High quality public open space
  • Commercial/institutional landscapes
  • Semi-natural/reconstructed woodland
  • Urban parkland (trees/turf)
  • Remnant vegetation (urban fringe)

How well do we manage urban landscapes? Typical issues:

  • Lack of overall vision
    • “Historical precedent” – we have always done it this way so will continue to do so
  • Inadequately trained staff
    • Degree (e.g. in horticulture) or equivalent should be minimum for landscape management positions
  • Inadequate resources
    • $$ for design and construction, but failure to realise that management and recurrent maintenance determines landscape success

Landscape Management Planning Process

  • Gather information on the resource and the significant issues associated with it
  • Develop organisational views and identify preliminary aims and objectives for the resource (finalised later)
  • Communicate with the community and other stakeholders, and produce issues paper for public comment
  • Incorporate community and stakeholder feedback into the document, refine aims and objectives, and develop management strategy
  • Publish management plan

“The essence of ecological landscaping is a holistic systems-thinking* perspective for understanding the interrelationships among physical-ecological and sociocultural variables that give rise to the patterns and processes of biodiversity, abiotic conditions, and ecosystem processes within and among individually- managed urban landscape parcels”

-Byrne & Grewal, 2008


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The role of private gardens:

The combination of landscaping and architecture introduces an infinite variety into the urban landscape. While street tree planting should be relatively uniform (within individual streets) for historical and functional reasons, planting in private gardens can create a rich and stimulating diversity in the urban fabric, which should be promoted.

The value of a tree…

  • An 80-year old oak tree in Germany, covering an area of 160 m2 had a photosynthetic surface of 160,000 square meters
  • It absorbed during its lifetime 40 million cubic meters of air – equivalent to the contents of 80,000 two-family houses
  • Powered solely by solar energy, it absorbed 2352 kg of CO2 and contributed 1712 kg of oxygen
  • When this oak tree was to be sacrificed for the sake of “more comfortable car transportation,” it was calculated that its free services would have to be replaced by planting 2700 young trees
  • The economic replacement value of all biological, ecological, socio- economical and cultural services provided in Germany by an average single tree has been calculated as 200 times higher than its value for timber alone3

    [Naveh, Z (1997) “The value of landscapes as life-supporting systems”, Israel Environment Bulletin, 20(4), Autumn.]

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Green Infrastructure: “An adaptable term used to describe an array of products, technologies, and practices which use natural systems – or designed systems which mimic natural processes – to enhance environmental sustainability and human habitability (quality of life)”

-Paul Osmond

Eight Key Design Principles; Green Infrastructure must…

  1. Be regenerative – give back more than it takes out
  2. Be multifunctional – each element fulfils more than one purpose
  3. Embody redundancy – each purpose fulfilled by more than one element
  4. Enable resilience – absorb change while preserving core system function
  5. Make the least change for the greatest effect
  6. Minimise inputs of materials and energy
  7. Maximise outputs of ecosystem services
  8. Embrace design which facilitates maintenance

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Further References

  • Antrop, M. (2006). “Sustainable landscapes: contradiction, fiction or utopia?”, Landscape and Urban Planning 75(3–4): 187–197.
  • Byrne, L.B., Grewal,, P. (2008). “Introduction to Ecological Landscaping: A holistic description and framework to guide the study and management of urban landscape parcels“, Cities and the Environment 1(2).
  • Hitchmough, J. D. (1994). Urban Landscape Management, Inkata Press, Sydney.
  • Tahir, O. M. and Roe, M. H. (2006). “Sustainable urban landscapes: Making the case for the development of an improved management system”, International Journal on Sustainable Tropical Design Research and Practice 1(1): 17-23.
  • Naveh, Z (1997) “The value of landscapes as life-supporting systems”, Israel Environment Bulletin, 20(4), Autumn
  • Alberti M and Marzluff JM (2004) “Ecological resilience in urban ecosystems: Linking urban patterns to human and ecological functions”, Urban Ecosystems 7: 241-265.
  • Hunter, A, Williams, N, Rayner, J, Aye, L, Hes, D, & Livesley, S (2014). “Quantifying the thermal performance of green façades: A critical review”, Ecological Engineering, 63: 102-113.
  • http://junglefy.com.au/
  • screen-shot-2016-06-04-at-7-34-58-pm

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