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Urbanizing Habitat Conservation Planning, Using Landscape Ecological Interventions: An Ecosystem Approach PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Urbanizing Habitat Conservation Planning, Using Landscape Ecological Interventions: An Ecosystem Approach Ashwani Vasishth [email protected] California State University, Northridge 2008 Joint ACSP-ASEOP Conference, July 8, 2008, Chicago, Illinois

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Urbanizing Habitat Conservation Planning, Using Landscape Ecological Interventions: An Ecosystem Approach

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Urbanizing Habitat Conservation Planning,

Using Landscape Ecological Interventions:

An Ecosystem Approach

Ashwani Vasishth

[email protected]

California State University, Northridge

2008 Joint ACSP-ASEOP Conference, July 8, 2008, Chicago, Illinois


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A central objective of ecological planning is…

…to enhance the resilience

of systems with which we are concerned


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The question is…

…how do we better integrate humans with nature, in regional urban planning?


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We begin by recognizing two facts…


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Dirt…

…is organic!!!


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Lawns…

…are synthetic!!!


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Evolution of Habitat Conservation Planning

  • The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is written in 1973 as part of the effort to block trade in endangered speciesand in animal products

  • The phrase “and also the ecosystems on which they depend” is added, almost as an afterthought, during development of the ESA

  • The “critical habitat” designationprovision of the ESA grows into the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) process


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Habitat Conservation Plans are the product of an additive piece-meal and patchwork legislative process

No serious effort has ever been made to design a legislated habitat conservation planning process from the ground-up,

based on ecosystem ecology!!!


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We Need a Law Based In Ecosystem Ecology and that Addresses the Concerns of Urbanizing Mega-regions

We need an “Endangered Ecosystems Act”


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Habitat Conservation Relies On the Designation of “Set-aside” Reserves

We agree to protect some parts of the region in exchange for permission to do what we want everywhere else


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Administrative Jurisdictions In Southern CaliforniaClose to 190 Cities


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Habitat Conservation PlansIn Southern California


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In Places Where Urbanization is Regionalized, the Endangered Species Act Is Necessary but Insufficient

  • The urban-suburban-rural divide is increasingly ill-defined

  • Fragmented landscapes disallow contiguity

  • Multiple, overlapping and conflicting jurisdictions and boundarieslimit the “reserve-design” approach


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In Cases Where Urbanization Has Permeated the Region Quite Thoroughly…

…habitat conservation must do the same


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We Need to Better Integrate Habitat Conservation Planning and Urban Land Use Planning

  • Habitat conservation planning must urbanize itself

  • Urban land use planning must ecologize itself


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We Need to Move from Habitat Conservation Planning To Eco-regional Management

  • Beyond setting aside wilderness habitat for preservation, and besides designating habitat for conservation, we need to identify functionally critical habitat elements which can then be extensively percolated throughout the regional landscape


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An Ecosystem Management Approach to Nature Conservation Would:

  • Urbanize habitat conservation planning

  • Ecologize land use planning

  • Promote wildlife-friendly native vegetation

  • Plan for bio-geo-chemical processes

  • Aim for ecological resilience


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Urbanization does three things to the land…


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It lays down copious amounts of impervious surface…

…completely disregarding the fact that “dirt is alive”


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It lays down broad swaths of lawn grass…

…completely disregarding the fact that

“lawns are synthetic”


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It transforms the land for an exclusively human purpose…

…completely disregarding the fact that we are inextricably a part of nature


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If we do nothing else, we must do these three things…


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Minimize impervious surfaces

  • Permeable and porous paving material technologies are quite well-developed and readily available for wide-spread use

  • Green roofs have proven themselves to be effective in Europe and in the US

  • Bioswales and underground cisterns allow the gradual percolation of retained stormwater back into the soil


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Maximize native trees, plants and vegetation

  • Particularly in semi-arid regions, we must begin to reculturate ourselves to better appreciate nature for what it is, rather than for what we idealize it to be

  • Conventional urbanization displaces many native species, and the use of native flora may help bring them back


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Manage land use for ecosystem values

  • While human purpose is properly central to the built environment, we have enough room to be considerate of nature

  • Ecosystem services are grossly underutilized, and “green infrastructure” technologies can save us significant costs


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Transcending the Paralysis Induced By the Existing Built Environment and its Extreme Fragmentation

  • Habitat connectivity is less important than habitat quality

  • Patch dynamics give rise to robust mosaics


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We must learn to “think like an ecosystem”

  • Begin to value processes and functions over objects and entities

  • Begin to plan for enhanced resilience

  • Think adaptive management, not “problem solution”


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Such an ecosystem-based approach to eco-regional management…

…would show us the way to an effective ecological planning


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Ashwani Vasishth

[email protected]

Department of Urban Studies and Planning

California State University, Northridge

(818) 677-6137

http://www.csun.edu/~vasishth


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