Involving Ecologists in Shaping Large-Scale Green Infrastructure Projects

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Abstract

Cities are implementing green infrastructure projects to provide ecosystem services such as storm water mitigation. The efficacy of these projects at providing services is rarely evaluated. Embedding research into project design provides a mechanism for both evaluation and development of the ecological knowledge needed to improve infrastructure for services provision. Ecologists must navigate the politics, economics, and social constraints of working in cities. Additional skills and practices are needed to develop new relationships and improve credibility, to define project roles, to identify new funding, and to integrate multidisciplinary knowledge. We examine a large-scale green infrastructure project that integrates hypothesis-driven experimental research and baseline monitoring with park design, implementation, and maintenance. Drawing on this case study, we recommend strategies to facilitate the inclusion of research ecologists in green infrastructure projects by enhancing the professional certification process, establishing research ecologists as consultants, and integrating ecology and design in graduate programs.

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