by Sohyun Park, ASLA, SITES AP, and Elyna Grapstein, Student ASLA
During the ASLA 2021 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Nashville, Elyna Grapstein, Student ASLA, and Sohyun Park, ASLA, SITES AP, hosted the Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN) campfire session on the EXPO floor. It brought together approximately 30 participants, including students, faculty, and design professionals, for an engaging 45-minute discussion.
During this small-group, informal session, attendees participated in a mind-mapping exercise and were encouraged to list the things that were most important to them regarding restoration initiatives. The exercise prompted a group conversation about common restoration oversights.
A summary of the mind-mapping exercise is presented below in the order topics were discussed:
- Adaptive re-use and recognizing challenges in urban environments
- Budgets for maintenance
- Changing expectations for restoration projects and their outcomes
- Communicating the benefits of ecological/restoration interventions with municipalities and private/residential landowners: how to promote “intellectual access”
- Education of the broader community, including youth engagement
- Having a loud voice/platform in interdisciplinary firms and addressing language barriers across disciplines
- Inter-agency and interdisciplinary collaboration
- Plant diversity and plant communities: native plantings and naturalistic aesthetics
- Species-specific wildlife habitat: corridors and wildlife crossings
- Stormwater management
- Successional plantings and planning
- Soil health
- Site- and project-specific spec sheets
- Policy literacy
- Research on urban/city-scale restoration
- Site preparation and restoration management were recurring topics in the discussion.
Participants highlighted the importance of invasive species management, novel ecosystems, specific instructions for urban restoration, and public access to restoration sites (e.g., signage and interpretive opportunities and giving people an opportunity to observe the many successional stages of restoration projects first-hand).
Participants inquired about what other firms are doing in their restoration projects and practices. They agreed that showcasing precedents across different eco-regions or biomes could be a useful point of reference.
This exercise was an extension of the ASLA Ecology and Restoration PPN leadership team’s efforts toward developing a “Primer of Ecological Restoration in Landscape Architecture,” initiated chiefly by PPN members Kelly Farrell, Associate ASLA (Sasaki), Jeremy Person, ASLA (City of Portland, Oregon), Donna Shumpert, ASLA (ForeSite Associates), and Elyna Grapstein, Student ASLA (University of Georgia).
Sohyun and Elyna reported the main outcomes from the PPN Campfire Session back to the rest of the PPN leadership team in January 2022 and plan to analyze and distribute the data with the hope that it will contribute to understanding people’s perceptions of ecological restoration in landscape architecture education and practice.
With the help of Chicquita Hairston, ASLA Professional Practice Coordinator, a short online survey was developed prior to the ASLA Conference. The survey remains open, and all ASLA members are encouraged to complete it to better inform the PPN about the needs and wants of restoration professionals:
Thank you for your time!
For more about the Ecology & Restoration PPN: asla.org/ecology.aspx
ASLA offers 20 Professional Practice Networks that represent major practice areas within the profession of landscape architecture. All ASLA members may join one PPN for free, and each additional PPN for $15 per year. Log in to asla.org to check which PPN(s) you’re in if you’re not sure of your PPN membership status. Any member of a PPN may volunteer to join their PPN’s leadership team. Learn more and sign up to be a PPN leader.
Dr. Sohyun Park, ASLA, SITES AP, is assistant professor of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Connecticut. She is also co-chair of the ASLA Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN).
Elyna Grapstein, Student ASLA, is a third-year MLA candidate at the University of Georgia. She is also an officer of the ASLA Ecology & Restoration Professional Practice Network (PPN).