Not meddling with nature is central to America’s modern wilderness tradition, but should we make an exception to save a population of wolves from extinction?
This editorial highlights the debates around wildlife management, highlighting the critical finding that”a healthy ecosystem depends critically on the presence of top predators like wolves when large herbivores, like moose, are present. Without top predators, prey tend to become overabundant and decimate plants and trees that many species of birds, mammals and insects depend on.” In order to establish and manage ecosystems, scientists and practitioners will have to determine what role we should play in the managing species dynamics.
The greatest challenge with rewilding especially within suburban areas is the human-wildlife conflicts as represented in this article on suburban lions in Nairobi Kenya. This issue could be solved through an integration of land planning and site design strategies similar to an expanded suburban zoo.
Alex Felson and the UEDLAB served as team members with Zago Architecture to develop a proposal the MoMA exhibit Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. Their project, Property with Properties, included concepts of constructed ecosystems through rewiliding.
Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream is an exploration of new architectural possibilities for cities and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent foreclosure crisis. During summer 2011, five interdisciplinary teams of architects, urban planners, ecologists, engineers, and landscape designers worked in public workshops at MoMA PS1 to envision new housing and transportation infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation, particularly in the country’s suburbs.
The author discusses the diversity of species within a given housing lot in Washington State noting the discovery of a rare species. It is interesting that even with the focus of the article mostly on insects, the drawing of the animals on the lot includes all of the fury and large signature animals, revealing the issue of highlighting and valuing the mostly hidden species that we all take for granted and disregard.
F&ES / SOA Professor in MOMA Exhibit Alexander Felson, assistant professor and director of the Urban Ecology and Design Laboratory at Yale, is part of an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City that explores architectural possibilities for cities and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent foreclosure crisis. Felson was selected as a core team member to participate on the Zago Architecture Team that used Rialto, Calif., as a model for its exhibit, “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream.” www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/foreclosed/rialto For the project, the Urban Ecology and Design Laboratory proposed using suburbia along the exurban fringe as a site for testing re-wilding, which asserts that large predators can be instrumental in maintaining the structure, resilience and diversity of ecosystems by initiating top-down ecological interactions. Re-wilding would be achieved, Felson said, by employing the zoological park as a suburban amenity. In a collaborative endeavor between the developer and federal government, the government would finance habitat links to the suburb and, in return, the development would incorporate infrastructure with intensified habitat zones and productive ecosystems, providing jobs, public amenities and regional habitat resources. For a blog on the re-wilding approach of the project visit: www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2011/12/21/foreclosed-the-role-of-the-team-in-the-design-process.
FIgure: Housing taxonomy: Combining building, landscape and technology to promote zoo-like interfaces and artificial attractors Diagram courtesy of Alexander Felson and Jacob Dugopolski.
The MOMA blog by Alex Felson and the UEDLAB and with Jacob Dugapolski (SOA 2011) expands on the initial concepts informing the foreclosed housing project with the Zago Architecture team for the MOMA exhibition. The blog also discusses the translation of these concepts into viable formal proposals through the design process and the opportunities and challenges of collaboration