As our society takes greater responsibility for the environmental damage it has caused, land planners and designers are being called upon to heal the earth. Ecological restoration projects use the latest science to restore ecosystems to optimal functioning and value. This is a rapidly changing field as our understanding of the complexity of managing ecosystems evolves and techniques for carrying out restoration projects improve. Students interested in this work often have a background in conservation biology, ecology or similar field. They go on to work in private practice, or for non-governmental and governmental agencies.
Recent projects include:
Doverbrook Condominum Landscape Master Plan
A former military base was converted to housing for over 1000 residents. The condominium complex’s Board of Director asked the Conway School for an ecologically appropriate landscape plan that could replace the site’s energy-intensive and habitat-poor traditional “lawnscape.” Exploring and identifying different zones of use enabled the student team to development management techniques tailored to each zone. Areas of high visibility such as community gateways would receive greater attention, areas with greater wildlife interest and reduced human use could become more naturalized in meadow or woodlands. By limiting management to those areas of greatest use, costs–both environmental and financial–are substantially reduced.
Master Plan for Beaver Dam Sanctuary
The Conway team developed a management plan for a 171-acre sanctuary that is heavily used by fly-fishers, equestrians, cross-country skiiers, and hikers. The plan addresses trail management, stormwater and erosion control, invasive species control and restoration of native understory that has been overgrazed by deer.
Westover Air Reserve Base Management Plan
Cognizant that their efforts to maintain extensive amounts of lawn and non-native plantings were not only costly but ineffective, the Natural/Cultural Resources Manager asked the Conway School to prepare a planting and management plan more indigenous to the sand plain ecosystem on which the air base sits. The resulting design must also avoid plants that attract birds (for air safety), and also conform to Homeland Security requirements for good visibility from all buildings. Design templates provide recommendations for distinct planting zones, and management techniques for implementation and maintenance over the long term.