Publication Date

5-2014

Committee Members

Michael Davidsohn, Chair - Andy Bohne, Member

Abstract

The purpose of this project was to increase urban biodiversity by restoring the native floodplain plant communities along the Connecticut River at the Pioneer Valley Riverfront Club (PVRC). Restoring or designing native plant communities is an important design alternative to the typical design methods of using non-native plant species and mono-culture plant palettes. Restoring a native plant community at the PVRC will allow the landscape to function once more as usable habitat for wildlife and native plants, encourage the natural succession of native plants, and become a more resilient landscape that can better withstand ecological changes caused by various factors including climate change. The project was also intended to be a showcase example for other landscape designers to see how native plant community design can be effectively utilized to not only inform the plant palette for a landscape design proposal, but also effectively show how a native plant community-based design can restore the functionality and environmental resilience of a landscape in a safe, educational, and welcoming manner. In addition, this project bridges the gap and acknowledges the difference between a typical landscape designer's approach to restoration and a restoration ecologist's approach. This was accomplished by re-grading the site of the PVRC in order to reconnect the artificially filled-in and elevated areas of the property with the floodplain. The design creates a series of terraces based on estimated flood levels required to sustain both the Floodplain Forest and High Terrace Floodplain Forest plant communities while utilizing the plants found in those native plant communities, as described by the Classification of the Natural Communities of Massachusetts (Swain & Kearsley, 2001). The designs were informed by extensive research on native plant communities in Massachusetts, previous native plant community restoration projects, and through detailed site analysis and site visits to the researched case studies.

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