Constructing Future Nature: Ethical conundrums in the design of ecosystems
Organizer/Moderator: Alex Felson
Ben Minteer, Arizona State University: The Fall of the Wild? The Ecological Ethics of Preservation, Restoration, and Design in the Anthropocene.
Eric Higgs, University of Victoria, Australia: Back to a future landscape: prospects for ecological restoration.
Alex Felson,Yale University:Shaping ecosystems through ecological land planning and research-based design.
Joy Zedler, University of Wisconsin: Embracing uncertainty: Looking back while planning ahead.
Humans are negatively impacting ecosystems locally and changing global climates. This generates a need not only to restore impaired ecosystems but to construct new ecosystems that are resilient and sustainable within a changing environment. As the demand for constructed ecosystems expands, restoration ecologists, along with other applied ecologists, are poised to address the challenge of reclaiming and restoring degraded, damaged and destroyed ecosystems and to serve as critical players in shaping the ecosystems of the future. Yet the base assumptions that have guided the field of restoration ecology for decades, including the reliance on historical reference sites in an effort to return habitats to pre-disturbance conditions, are being questioned. Restoration ecologists are obliged to reconsider how to model future ecosystems. They face ethical challenges associated with defining the appropriateness of native versus non-native species in urbanized landscapes. For example, should wildlife habitat preservation and enhancement or public access be valued more in urban parkland? Should ecologists assist in facilitating the migration of plant and animal communities affected by global warming?
This symposium will explore possible roles for restoration ecologists in defining and establishing ecosystems of the future particularly in suburban areas or urbanized coasts. It will examine the ethical, cultural, and functional challenges of constructing ecosystems. Topics include: engaging the public through outreach and education; situating restoration projects in urbanized landscapes; integrating technology, research and design into restoration projects; and responding to shifting understandings of environmental responsibility in an era of rapid environmental change.
Photo taken by Tim Carter, From left: Alex Felson, Steward Pickett, Wendi Goldsmith, Larry Baker, Jennifer Rice, and Erle Ellis
Ecological Society of America Symposium August 8, 2013
Past, Present, & Future Design of Infrastructure(s) for a Resilient Society Organized by: Tim Carter, Erle Ellis and Alex Felson
Human systems rely not only on built infrastructures (roads, pipes, etc) but also on the social, cultural, and ecological infrastructures that are inseparable from the physical spaces we inhabit. This symposium will bring environmental historians, designers, political ecologists, geographers and other environmental scientists together with esteemed ecologists to build on the interdisciplinary space created by the conference theme: ” Sustainable Pathways: Learning From the Past and Shaping the Future”.
in-fruh-struhk-cher the basic, underlying framework of a system or organization
1) Infrastructures are not simply physical; 2) The past has shaped the present conditions, but may not determine the future, particularly when resiliency is considered; 3) Ecologists can (should?) play a role in the design of our current and future infrastructures.
Presentation Topics:Erle Ellis. Human infrastructure as ecological infrastructure for the Anthropocene.Wendi Goldsmith. The role of green infrastructure in urban landscape planning and design. Jennifer Rice. Social and Political Infrastructures of resilience: Cities as leaders in climate change governance? Larry Baker. Envisioning Resilient futures for urban water and waste. Steward Pickett. Resilience in Ecology and Urban Design. Alexander Felson. The role of ecologists in informing future nature (infrastructure).
Alex Felson participated as a presenter and panelist in the event Urban Planet: Emerging Ecologies at the Cooper Union on April 10th.
Two questions raised were: "Ecological understanding of urban constructed ecosystems is seminal. Scientists are seeking new ways to develop that knowledge towards understanding urban environments and defining sustainable ecosystems. At the same time, designers are incorporating ecological understanding and attempting to define sustainable urban ecosystems of the future.
1. Design practitioners often filter ecological concepts and understanding into design even though those concepts are not easily translated from one field to the next and the ecological data as well as theoretical frameworks are incomplete. What then are the professional boundaries designers should acknowledge and how can those boundaries be overcome particularly when working with incomplete information from scientists and the uncertainty embedded in scientific results?
2. Environmental consultants often form part of design teams. Their input however into the design process is constrained and largely aims to satisfy developers’ interests and regulations which may not be based on the best available science. How can we enhance transdisciplinary approach across the design and ecology disciplines to ensure a more meaningful integration of ecology and design for the built environment?”