Landscape Group’s Resilient Design Guide Promotes Working With Nature

To help mitigate damage done by natural disasters, communities can build up surrounding nature with the help of a new American Society of Landscape Architects resilient design guide.

With its new resource guide, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is helping communities work with nature to protect themselves from the elements.

The Resilient Design Guide is a collection of free resources that shares ways community planners can design natural areas to best prevent damage from natural disasters. It is organized by type of natural event, including drought, extreme heat, flooding, landslides, and fires.

“The resilient guide is a tool for landscape architects and related professionals—architects, planners—but we’re also trying to reach just the broader decision-makers of communities—mayors, city councils, things like that,” ASLA Senior Communications Manager Jared Green said.

Resilient design elements in communities prevent natural events, offer multiple layers of protection in an event, provide a series of benefits, and promote quick recovery after natural disasters. In each section, those responsible for design can find what type of systems minimize damage from the different natural events.

It’s about how do you partner with nature to achieve goals for humanity.

One example is mangrove tree forests, which live along the shore and protect coastal communities from flooding in the case of a hurricane because they mitigate wave energy during the storm. However, the forests also hold soil in place, provide wildlife habitat, and clean the air. Green explained mangrove forests may even be more effective than sea walls.

“[Resilient design] is about working with nature as opposed to in opposition to it, trying to wall yourself off from it,” he said. “It’s about how do you partner with nature to achieve goals for humanity.”

The guide also covers the importance of including a landscape architect in the community-design process to ensure protective natural systems are put in place.

“Landscape architects play an important role because they can be the bridge between the architect or the engineer or the planner and the ecologist or the scientist,” Green said. “And they’re the ones who can design that natural system to serve specific functions for people, for communities.”

Lastly, Green emphasized the importance of biodiversity in supporting natural systems. He explained how the loss of the mangrove forests in New Orleans allowed the wind and tidal surges to do greater damage to the city during Hurricane Sandy.

“We featured biodiversity loss, because if we lose biodiversity, then this whole working with nature, partnering with nature thing collapses,” he said. “That’s the underlying threat that is huge for humanity.”

He continued: “If we want to work with nature, and we want natural systems to protect us, and we want to design like nature, then we need to preserve that bank of diverse species.”

Singapore's Bishan Park, an example of resilient landscape design the association highlights. (Raymond kwa/Flickr)

Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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