In the last few decades humans have switched from being a rural to an urban species. This has negatively impacted our health and well-being, and in the face of climate change, made us more vulnerable to heat waves, air pollution, floods and wildfire. Fortunately, we can exploit the characteristics of our regional ecosystems and apply this natural technology to landscape design to optimize ecological, environmental and sociological performance. Technologies like urban prairies, sustainable turf, green roofs, green walls, urban forestry, and restored vegetated roadside shoulders and medians are at our fingertips. Our city landscapes represent an opportunity for engaging natural technology which is free, and readily available. So let’s start deploying it in our landscapes.
Mark Simmons Ph.D. is Director of Research and Environmental Design for the Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas. His research and environmental design projects focus on creating and rebuilding landscapes and urban green infrastructure to improve ecosystem services.