The Changing Roles of Landscaping in Nature-Based Solutions, Part 2 – The Land


by Lee Parks, International ASLA and LIAO Jingjing

Taibai Lake District Landscaping Project, Man-Made Wetlands / Image: © Lee Parks

Exploring the Changing Roles of Landscaping in Nature-Based Solutions: A Reflection on Professional Practice Over the Past Two Decades

Part 2: Integrating the naturalistic landscape into the public realm

Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) are actions designed to work with and enhance natural habitats to leverage the ability of healthy natural and managed ecosystems to sequester carbon and support the recovery of biodiversity. The first part of this series – on greening gray infrastructure – was published last week; Here in Part 2, on integrating the naturalistic landscape into the public realm, we continue to explore how NBS can be pushed into the realms of social awareness and day-to-day recognition by policy makers and the general public and , in turn, support broader and longer-term international relations. environmental successes.

3 Integrating the naturalistic landscape into the public domain

3.1 NbS for green city infrastructure

Qufu, a city in Jining County, Shandong Province, is the birthplace of Confucius and Mencius, the great Chinese sages of the Spring and Autumn period. Around 2010, Jining’s impressions were of a coal-based economy and a city in need of transformation. Envisioning a transformation towards an ecological future, a 2001 article by renowned Confucian scholar Tu Weiming, a professor at Harvard University and Peking University, titled “The Ecological Turn in The New Confucian Humanism: Implications for China and the World” inspired a landscape concept called the “ecological turn”.

This concept by Lee Parks promoted an ecological image for a new streetscape, canal and lake for the southward expansion of Lake Taibai District. It was also an opportunity to put nature-based solutions into practice in Jining. The Lake Taibai District Landscape Design Development covers some 350 hectares where AECOM led the planning and design of a new lake and park, canal park, streetscape and park. an administrative center. The project represents a shift away from the planting of formal urban landscapes in favor of naturalistic strips of ornamental grasses and perennial communities. A draft land development plan placed a new large shopping complex above a planned canal – this was disputed by the landscape architect, who then moved the development plot 200 meters to the north, realigned the roads, adjusted the land use plan and restored the integrity of the planned green and blue infrastructure. Nature-based solutions were used to create vegetated channel fills, provide water purification and ensure habitat creation to the new lake.

South of a new government building, a main road has been dug to protect the integrity of the new city park, prioritizing people, places and nature. It was recommended that a planned bridge that would have bisected the lake be canceled to preserve the integrity of the lake and the park. Extensive new forests, wetlands, lotus ponds and grasslands have been planted to improve wildlife habitat.

Taibai Lake District Landscaping Project, Constructed Streetscape / Image: © Lee Parks

3.2 NbS for flood resilience

Following the successful implementation of a wide range of natural habitats in Jining, a regeneration of tidal banks in Yong River Park in Ningbo offered a chance to conserve riparian wetlands, restore lowlands floodplains in wet meadows and implement stormwater management strategies in a new community park. As park levels were mostly below a flood protection dyke, the site was graded to balance cut and fill and thereby retain, harvest and filter runoff. The re-evaluation of rainwater as a visible design element in the park helps raise awareness of the water cycle. The project repurposed existing docks and created barrier-free connections over wetlands to enjoy river and sunset views, an experience called Platform Walkway.

NbS have been advocated to restore floodplain functions and to encourage reed wetlands as a protective buffer, with richly planted wet meadows including spring bulbs, perennials and grasses, in inland areas with flooding less frequent. Preservation of reed wetlands at the front line of tidal mud flats protects the habitat of mud skippers (Periophthalmus cantonensis) and crabs, while providing a buffer against tidal storm surges in the typhoon-prone eastern coastal city. The wildflower meadows achieved a greater diversity of plant species and created an attractive transition between the urban park and the riverside (see photo below). The project won merit awards for urban design at the 2015 AIA Hong Kong Awards and an outstanding award in the open public space category at the 2017 IFLA Asia Pacific Awards.

Ningbo Yong River Park: Nature-based solutions for urban shoreline regeneration include restoring floodplains to wet grasslands for flood protection. / image: © Lee Parks
Ningbo Yong River Park: Nature-based solutions for urban shoreline regeneration include restoring floodplains to wet grasslands for flood protection. / image: © Lee Parks

3.3 NBS for forest restoration and wildlife corridors

As China’s air quality came under increasing scrutiny for unacceptable levels of pollutants, an action plan for air pollution prevention and control released in 2013 intensified efforts in governance, haze control, carbon reduction and energy restructuring. [刘毅 . 贺克斌院士:治霾与减碳的目标须协同实现]. For landscape architects, deteriorating air quality has lent weight to the case for urban reforestation to improve the quality of the ecological environment in conjunction with other measures to reduce air pollution.

Binjiang Forest Park, Phase II, in Shanghai’s Pudong New Area, aimed to increase urban forest in the city while expanding forest networks, ecological corridors and access to open spaces. Inspired by trees that intertwine and eventually grow together, such as the 400-year-old Lianli tree in Beijing’s Forbidden City, the park was designed to link the ecological connections between Phase I and Phase II using wildlife passages, wetlands, forests, and grassland.

Large areas of rainforest have been planted and trees that contribute to cultivation, food and climate mitigation have been planted to create forest belts and regenerating groves, with more than 54,000 new trees. During investigations of the site, a century-old tree was found on the route of a newly developed road. The road was rerouted by the landscape architect and raised to allow an eco-passage for wildlife, including the Chinese water deer. Expanding urban forest will support air pollution control, carbon sequestration, and increased habitat coverage and migration corridors for wildlife. Additionally, a new lake has been created by diverting, cleaning and improving water quality through constructed wetlands using nature as a living system to purify water. This was inspired by the achievements of Houtan Park and the growing advocacy for sponge towns by Kongjian Yu, FASLA (see Binjiang Forest Park photos below).

Binjiang Forest Park, NbS for improving the quality of urban ecological environment: master plan / image: © Lee Parks
Binjiang Forest Park, NbS for improving the quality of the urban ecological environment: regenerative forest belts as a relief noise buffer towards the outer ring road / image: © Lee Parks
Binjiang Forest Park, NbS for improving the quality of urban ecological environment: wildlife underpass connecting Phase I and Phase II of Binjiang Forest Park / Image: © Lee Parks
NbS application for cleaning river water for a new lake: River water is gravity fed into a wetland treatment system which allows for sedimentation, filtration and purification before entering the central lake. / image: © Lee Parks
NbS app for cleaning river water for a new lake: Wetlands and lake built in winter show the color change of the river water as sediment settles; the water is purified and the lake water is enhanced with the underwater forest. / image: © Lee Parks

Stay tuned for part 3, on a positive future for nature, which will appear here on Field next week!

Lee Parks, International ASLA, is a British landscape architect and landscape director of AECOM. His research focuses on ecological landscape planning, green infrastructure, nature-based solutions, and ecological plantation design.

LIAO Jingjing, Master, is landscape assistant of AECOM. His research focuses on green infrastructure, nature-based solutions, community renewal and empowerment.


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