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Publication Date

2013

Abstract

The Boston Metropolitan Area Urban Long-term Ecological Research Area (BMA-ULTRA-EX) Project is an interdisciplinary project that is studying the effects of socio-economic and biophysical drivers on urban ecosystems. The Boston region is experiencing low-density urban sprawl (suburbanization) on the rural-urban fringes of the metropolitan area that is creating environmental impacts to natural resources. At the same time, central cities such as Boston are seeing disinvestment in some low-income neighborhoods causing property abandonment, along with limited infill development (densification) near the commercial core and transit hubs. These competing socio-economic forces of suburbanization, densification, and disinvestment have environmental implications for urban ecosystems, including urban forest canopy, water quantity and quality, and biodiversity. Landscape planning initiatives to address these issues will require a pro-active approach to concentrating development on currently built lands and in the suburban fringe to protect forests, farms and other natural resources, while greening and enhancing ecosystem services in the current high-density urban core.

It is within this landscape planning setting that the research team used a stakeholder- driven process to develop a set of four planning scenarios to explore the future of the region. This paper will describe the planning process with stakeholders to develop these plans, along with the preliminary analyses. It will conclude with insights for other landscape planners engaged in scenario planning.

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