Ecological Landscape Planning and Design engages ecological pattern and its associated processes across a range of spatial scales. This area involves both planning and design. Planning is understood as proactive action(s) to achieve specific goals and objectives. Design is defined as the act of creating physical form and expression in landscapes. Planning and design here are conceived as complementary and synergistic disciplines, organized along acontinuum according to ecological principles.
Many current environmental issues and concerns are being addressed in this area, including: water resource planning, integrating biodiversity and land use planing, mitigating hazards, and alternative waste removal and processing. With its integrated research, outreach and service activities the Department is an international leader in this area, and actively moving into new areas and initiatives.
The working definition of ecological landscape planning and design is inclusive of biotic, abiotic (physical) and cultural resources, values and issues. The emphasis in this area is on the biotic and abiotic components. The cultural component is not excluded from the landscape ecological paradigm advanced here; on the contrary it is seen as profoundly significant and is identified as its own area of concentration because of this. Strong and active linkages between these areas are in place and will continue to be in the future.
In the future this area will continue to be a core area for our department. It will continue to have a significant outreach presence through community service projects, the Center for Rural Massachusetts, and externally-funded research. In addition, it will become more involved with site and project-scale design and implementation of ecologically-based technological practices by establishing active collaborations with the Environmental Sciences Program and the Stockbridge School to develop new strategies for ecological mitigation, bioengineering and bioremediation.