Category Archives: Environment

Book Review: The Mass-Produced Forest

A review of Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation by Rosetta S. Elkin.

By Jennifer Wolch

Plant Life Book Cover

Tree planting campaigns are widely seen as a nature-based solution to a variety of environmental challenges. Trees can absorb carbon emissions, halt desertification, protect biodiversity, cool urban heat islands, and redress environmental injustice.

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Game Changer

Shorter, wilder courses and ample room for habitat are just some of the transformations coming to golf.

By Lisa Owens Viani

San Geronimo Golf Course
Ephemeral drainages will be restored in Larsen Meadow, the former back nine of San Geronimo Golf Course. Photo by Erica Williams, courtesy Trust for Public Land.

One outcome of the last housing boom was a glut of golf courses built to market new suburban developments. As courses have closed or sat vacant, planners and communities have debated their next best use.

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Jacksonville Steps Ahead

Florida’s Emerald Trail strides toward a more walkable future.

By Margaret Shakespeare

An open trail within a park
The trail will create connections to the water and offer opportunities for nature-based play. SCAPE, courtesy Groundwork Jacksonville

McCoys Creek Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida, is a major thoroughfare that increasingly is closed to traffic because of flooding, even after a routine afternoon shower. It’s one of many areas in the city that, due to aging infrastructure like undersized pipes and inadequate drainage—particularly in older residential neighborhoods—now experiences chronic flooding events. Continue reading Jacksonville Steps Ahead

The Long Game

Landscape architects are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and building new networks through the Engineering With Nature program. The implications could be transformative for both.

By Jared Brey

Photo of people standing on the shore, pointing toward the bay.
Monica Chasten (foreground) and Sean Burkholder (center, holding a coffee) survey the opportunities with the team near Matts Landing in New Jersey. Photo by Jared Brey.

A needle that falls in the southern reaches of the New Jersey Pinelands might find itself washed into the Maurice River and carried by its current to Delaware Bay. The Maurice flows south in tight coils, and before it reaches the estuary, it’s forced into one final wide bend around a long dike at Matts Landing, near the old bayside oyster towns of Bivalve and Shell Pile. Continue reading The Long Game

Pocket Ecologies

Offshoots, Inc., designs a place for people, bikes, and plants in Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood.

By Karolina Hac

Aerial photo showing ramp, green roof, and trees shielding parkgoers from the freeway.
The park uses trees and topography to screen the adjacent elevated freeway. Image courtesy Peter Vanderwarker Photography.

Traveling into Boston on the elevated section of Interstate 93, a small pop of green is visible among the swath of industry in Charlestown’s Hood Park. Designed by Offshoots, Inc., in conjunction with Elkus Manfredi Architects, that green dot is known as Hood Bike Park. Continue reading Pocket Ecologies

Seeding a Wilder Future

A new gorilla conservation campus by MASS Design Group and TEN x TEN is a laboratory for reforestation.

By Timothy A. Schuler

Aerial photo of Fossey Center showing landscape and low-lying buildings with green roofs.
The experimental landscape at the new Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund headquarters features plant communities that are critical to mountain gorillas’ survival. Photo by Iwan Baan.

The plan was ambitious, even by MASS Design Group standards. For the headquarters of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, the world’s foremost mountain gorilla conservation organization, the designers envisioned a series of lily pad-like buildings nestled into a landscape made up of plant communities drawn almost exclusively from the gorillas’ native habitat in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park.

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Tier Drops

Water out West is disappearing. Seven states, 30 tribes, and millions of people will need to adjust.

By Lisa Owens Viani

The Central Arizona Project carries Colorado River water across a stretch of desert north of Bouse, Arizona. Photo © Ted Wood/The Water Desk.

In early August 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation declared the first ever Tier 1 shortage for the Colorado River, based on the agency’s projection that Lake Mead would drop below a threshold of 1,075 feet above sea level in January. Water levels in the river’s two main reservoirs—Lake Powell (behind Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona) and Lake Mead (behind Hoover Dam on the Arizona–Nevada border)—are now at their lowest since they were filled and flows in the river have declined. Continue reading Tier Drops