As globalization increases year after year, dispatching commodities across the globe, vegetation and wildlife also end up being inadvertently transferred from place to place. Naturally, this leads to foreign species being introduced into our local ecosystems. For the most part, it is unlikely the new plants or animals will thrive in their new environment, but sometimes they begin to overtake the natural order and ultimately disrupt it. As the great Dr. Ian Malcolm once said, “Life, uh, finds a way”.
When planning to alter the landscape, one key factor that must be kept in mind is the potential impact that will be felt by the current natural habitat. If done poorly, the landscape can create an opening for invasive species to engulf the native organisms, starving them of their natural resources. However, when done right, new projects can be an opportunity to strengthen the natural ecosystem and aid native organisms. During the planning and design of San Gabriel Park in Georgetown, Texas, RVi worked diligently with Cambrian Environmental to restore three natural spring habitats, as well as re-create a natural habitat for potentially endangered species along the San Gabriel River.
By designing with nature at the forefront we can create resilient and compelling spaces that not only encourage native ecological function but assist in repairing environmental degradation. The ripple-effects of which can be far reaching, from decreasing the risk of wildfires and flooding, to helping prevent water shortages, and minimizing pollution.
With any kind of planning and design work, we always encourage the use of native plant material. Recently, we worked with the Siglo Group on Mueller’s SE Greenway in Austin, Texas, producing a sustainable landscape guideline report that helped us survey, identify, plan removal, and provide long-term management recommendations for the invasive species existing onsite. With these invasives clearly identified, we were able to incorporate proper native species, paying close attention to where they would thrive in the final park design. In the end, we will be left with an established, high-quality native habitat that is in harmony with our urban environment.