Practical Ecology for Planners, Developers, and Citizens
In recent years, the practice of ecologically based planning and development has emerged as a way to safeguard human communities from natural hazards and to protect natural systems from the impacts of human settlement. Yet, despite a growing recognition of the value of planning and building with greater ecological sensitivity, many land use professionals lack the tools needed to do so easily. In this book, authors Dan Perlman and Jeffrey Milder address this need by introducing and explaining key ecological concepts for planners, landscape architects, developers and others involved in planning and building human habitats.
Throughout the book, the authors make ecological concepts accessible to readers with little or no scientific background by presenting information in simple, pragmatic terms and by using numerous graphics and illustrations to help explain important principles. The book is not so much an exhortation to conserve nature as a practical explanation of how to do so in the context of land use planning and land development. It explains how, by paying attention to the ecology of the places they work, land use professionals can create a richer, healthier world for humans and for all living creatures.
The three parts of the book lead the reader from concept to application, but the two are closely intertwined throughout in recognition of the relevance of scientific information to planning and design practice. The first part introduces the paradigm of ecological thinking and the ways in which it differs from the planning paradigm. It then explores the fundamentals of the ecological world and humans’ relationship to it.
The second part is a primer on ecology and conservation biology, emphasizing those aspects of the field most relevant to planners, designers, developers and others interested in land use: How does nature change over time? How predictable are these changes and what does this mean for planning? How do organisms and species interact in nature? Finally, how does the arrangement of landscape elements such as cities, farms, roads and nature reserves affect the form and function of ecological communities?
The final part discusses how scientific concepts can be applied to the two primary goals of ecologically based planning and design: (1) ensuring that humans benefit from and are not endangered by local ecosystems, and (2) improving the ecological integrity of human-influenced landscapes. This part begins by discussing large-scale applications such as regional planning and the design of nature reserves. It then moves to the scale of communities and sites to discuss the design of smaller parks and nature areas, as well as techniques for managing and restoring land. The final chapters present a range of practical planning and design techniques from an ecological standpoint as well as a two-part planning exercise that lets the reader practice applying the book’s lessons.
The Lincoln Institute supported the authors’ research for this book, which is published by Island Press in cooperation with the Institute.