Urban Green Infrastructure Initiative

The Urban Green Infrastructure Initiative was established in 2018, with the goal of expanding the emphasis of the Center beyond regional-scale conservation and land use planning issues to also include applied research and education focused on the elements of green infrastructure planning and design in urban and surrounding areas that are relevant to maintaining natural processes and ecosystem services.


In the book Green Infrastructure: Linking Landscapes and Communities, Benedict and McMahon (2006) defined green infrastructure as an interconnected network of natural areas and other open spaces that conserves natural ecosystem values and functions, sustains clean air and water, offers stormwater or flood management infrastructure, and provides a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife. To this end, topics of interest as part of the Initiative include urban green space protection and planning, ecosystem services, coastal storm surge protection, sea level rise resiliency, green stormwater infrastructure, climate-wise landscape design, and the human health benefits of urban green space. In particular, we are interested in the importance of linkages between rural and urban green infrastructure, and protecting both for the ecosystem services they provide.


Research results may be used to influence public policy, land use planning, and design through education and applied design and planning projects. An important goal is to increase the engagement of the Center with other faculty and students in the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the University of Florida and elsewhere, as well as faculty in the Florida Institute for Built Environment Resilience (FIBER), and other national and international research centers.


Research Projects


Incorporating Climate Change into Landscape Architectural in Projects and Practice

Principal Investigator: Michael Volk, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation Planning.

Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Gail Hansen, University of Florida Department of Environmental Horticulture

Student Assistants: Belinda B. Nettles, Christopher Nelson

Website: www.dcp.ufl.edu/landscapechange


Landscape architects in Florida are, and will be, very influential in addressing the impact of climate change on the built and natural environment. The knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of landscape architects about climate change will determine the extent to which they commit to design practices that mitigate climate change impacts such as flooding, temperature and precipitation changes, and salt water intrusion. It is important to understand what landscape architects' perceptions and beliefs are about climate change, to what degree these beliefs influence design practices, and what information and strategies are needed and relevant to landscape architectural practice today, and in the future, to help address the impacts of climate change on the natural and built environment.


Using data from a recent survey on attitudes and perceptions of Florida landscape architects toward climate change, this study identifies information gaps, potential strategies, and possible barriers to adoption of landscape design practices that anticipate, and plan for, immediate and future impacts of climate change on the built and natural environment. Products include development of a web-based resource for landscape architects in Florida and elsewhere to promote climate-wise design.


Additional funding was acquired in December 2018 to study methods of educating students in horticulture and landscape architecture about climate change and climate-wise design.


Studio Projects


Sun City Center: Analysis of Regional Connectivity, Restoration, and Golf Course Adaptive Reuse Opportunities

Studio Course: LAA4356 Environmental Planning and Design

Instructors: Dr. Tom Hoctor and Michael Volk


The goal of this project was to conduct an analysis of opportunities for the adaptive reuse of abandoned golf courses in the Sun City Center Community in south Florida, as well as opportunities for ecological restoration and connectivity between the green spaces in Sun City Center and the larger regional network of conservation lands and ecological corridors.

The final student products can be viewed here.


Student Research


Cross-scale Conservation and Landscape Planning in Bandung Urban Regions: the Challenge of Rapid Land Use Change (ongoing)

Doctoral Student: Widyastri Rahmy

Advisor: Dr. Tom Hoctor


Widyastris doctoral work will primarily address urban-rural connectivity as it relates to supporting a regional balance of conservation and development. It includes an examination of functional linkages between urban and rural greenspaces, with regard to their ability to provide ecosystem services as well as recreational and conservation opportunities. The study aims to incorporate a review of spatial law related to urban greenspace conservation, urban landscape conservation priority assessments, and assess the use of urban-rural development rights transfers as a means of addressing the challenges of rapid land use change. The study will be conducted in the Bandung Urban Region in Indonesia.


The Restorative Urban Realm: A Psychosocial Approach to Constructing the Restorative Urban Experiential Landscape. (2018). Doctoral dissertation.

Doctoral Student: Martha Battaglin Ramos

Advisor: Dr. Tom Hoctor.


Marthas doctoral work is an example of a study of urban ecosystem services delivered by a wider network of urban green infrastructure, at the neighborhood and street scale, to investigate the human benefits provided by urban landscapes. The study was designed to explore a human-oriented approach to landscape and urban design, focusing on theory development and policy recommendations towards fostering human psychological and social restoration in urban centers. From a human ecology perspective, urban landscapes provide ecosystem services with great potential to restore the human-ecological balance, and Marthas work focused on the socially-oriented dimension of creating, keeping and restoring this balance in urban settings.







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