Connectivity of green and blue infrastructures: living veins for biodiverse and healthy cities

Integrating ecology in landscape design

I recently went to meet Yves Petit-Berghem at the École nationale supérieure de paysage (National Graduate School of Landscape Design, ENSP) at Versailles.

I discovered the school (http://www.ecole-paysage.fr/site/ensp_fr/index.htm) through the garden with which it is associated, the Potager du Roi (King’s Vegetable Garden), as many people apparently do. This is a wonderful garden that produces vegetables and fruits in an organic, low-intensive, mixed cultivation manner. Wildflowers grow under rows of apple trees, patches of tall grasses are interspersed with squares of squashes, and small plants grow over crumbling stone walls. It is one of my favourite places, and consistently magical. The ENSP is in the buildings along one side of the garden.

Yves Petit-Berghem is the professor of Ecology at the ENSP, and teaches students who are getting a diploma as landscape designers (Diplôme d’Etat de Paysagiste) and in the masters course called TDPP—which stands for theory, procedures, projects, landscape. Yves is a geographer by formation, a discipline that is in dialgoue with other sciences from geology to sociology, and including ecology. The ENSP is a former horticultural school, and retains a certain emphasis on horticulture through the Potager du Roi, where students learn about gardening, soil management, and cultural practices related to gardens. But today it has a diversified teaching staff teaching art, engineering, sociology, ethnobotany, and landscape design. The staff carries out multiple forms of research and projects corresponding to these disciplines, including in particular “action-research,” meaning applied projects. The graduates from the ENSP are also known for their project orientation, their ability to carry out practical interventions. I particularly wanted to ask Yves what it means to teach ecology to landscape design students. Even though ecology is at the heart of urban, periurban and rural land management and design issues, the science and the natural history of ecosystems often seems to be marginal or completely ignored. What do design students need and want to know about ecology, and how can this be communicated to them?

Yves told me that certainly ecology is important in order to properly understand how to insert plants into architectural spaces, conservation corridors, blue and green infrastructures (what Bioveins focuses on), and at the territory scale. From a systematic design perspective, designers should recognise that plants, animals, soil, and other ecological elements and their relations form a system and all have a role in understanding any one of those. The masters course focuses mainly on the important issues of ecology that society faces today, in a political sense, but less in an ecological sense.

Yves suggested that ecology could be better integrated with a design education. The students tend to be taught ecology from a botanical or “autecology” perspective, that is, a focus on the biology of individual species, rather than a community ecology perspective focusing on interactions of multiple species. Yves also suggested that a deeper focus on how to intervene in ecological issues, how to analyse them, and what to do with ecological data, are all issues that could be further integrated with the practical, project-oriented education that the school currently provides. The development of more communication and interaction between pure researchers and applied researchers would help to develop this integrated perspective in education.

It seems to be the case that the political, artistic or management aspects of environmental issues are easier to grasp than ecological knowledge itself. There is a lot of work to do to integrate ecological principles and theories, experiment, data, and natural history knowledge into the design of green cities.

--Meredith Root-Bernstein, 21-9-2019

Thumbnail for Animals live in cities too…

Animals live in cities too…

Are cities a human phenomenon?

Thumbnail for A bit on art, meaning and gardens

A bit on art, meaning and gardens

Contemporary art has a lot to say about…

Thumbnail for What is biodiversity?

What is biodiversity?

BIOVEINS looks at where biodiversity is…

Thumbnail for What is green and blue infrastructure?

What is green and blue infrastructure?

BIOVEINS focuses on the role of green…

Thumbnail for Cities: what are they?

Cities: what are they?

We take cities for granted. But where…

Thumbnail for BIOVEINS Blog!

BIOVEINS Blog!

Welcome to the BIOVEINS blog!

Thumbnail for A morning with the Agence de Biodiversité of Ile-de-France

A morning with the Agence de Biodiversité of Ile-de-France

On a beautiful May morning, I meet…

Thumbnail for Biodiversity in European cities: a historical perspective

Biodiversity in European cities: a historical perspective

Is biodiversity in cities a futuristic…

Thumbnail for Bioveins Syposium: Greening Cities

Bioveins Syposium: Greening Cities

Biodiversity, Data, and Knowledge. 13…

Thumbnail for Call for papers

Call for papers

"Governing Urban Natures:…

Thumbnail for Cities, restoration & art

Cities, restoration & art

I met the artist Carmen Bouyer over the…

Thumbnail for Conferences and workshops of interest

Conferences and workshops of interest

Where to learn about urban nature!

Thumbnail for Data collection for BIOVEINS: Bacteria and birds!

Data collection for BIOVEINS: Bacteria and birds!

Collecting data on leaf bacteria and…

Thumbnail for Data collection for BIOVEINS: Bees, bats, flowers and insects

Data collection for BIOVEINS: Bees, bats, flowers and insects

Recently I caught up with the BIOVEINS…

Thumbnail for Dispatch from Lesotho

Dispatch from Lesotho

I write to you from Lesotho, where I am…

Thumbnail for Diversity of our roots

Diversity of our roots

The new Exorigins project brings a…

Thumbnail for Field notes from Chile

Field notes from Chile

I am doing fieldwork in a village in…

Thumbnail for Flies are cool

Flies are cool

Flies are diverse, amazing, urbane, and…

Thumbnail for Flora of Urban Wastelands: An interdisciplinary project

Flora of Urban Wastelands: An interdisciplinary project

Interview with Audrey Muratet, one of…

Thumbnail for Fragmentation

Fragmentation

One of the ecological concepts that…

Thumbnail for Urban amphibians

Urban amphibians

Are there frogs in cities? Where are…

Thumbnail for Experimenting with cities: news

Experimenting with cities: news

Matera, European City of Culture 2019;…

Thumbnail for Heat islands

Heat islands

Its hot and I’m in a heat island.

Thumbnail for Identifying urban plants

Identifying urban plants

Recently I found a guidebook to the…

Thumbnail for Imagination and Creativity for Cities and Nature I

Imagination and Creativity for Cities and Nature I

The Paris Forum on NBS [Nature-Based…

Thumbnail for Imagination and Creativity for Cities and Nature II

Imagination and Creativity for Cities and Nature II

Philosophies of action for resilient…

Thumbnail for Imagining the future of nature

Imagining the future of nature

On a recent visit to Milan I got to see…

Thumbnail for Integrating ecology in landscape design

Integrating ecology in landscape design

I recently went to meet Yves…

Thumbnail for IPBES Global Assessment Summary

IPBES Global Assessment Summary

The IPBES has today released a summary…

Thumbnail for Living with wildlife in cities

Living with wildlife in cities

Coexisting with wildlife in cities can…

Thumbnail for Living with wildlife in cities II

Living with wildlife in cities II

Reflections on mice and work.

Thumbnail for Making Urban Nature: Book Review

Making Urban Nature: Book Review

Stadsnatuurmaken/ Making Urban Nature…

Thumbnail for May Day- nature does no work

May Day- nature does no work

May Day is both a celebration of spring…

Thumbnail for Milton St., Northampton, MA, USA

Milton St., Northampton, MA, USA

I was taking a walk in Northampton,…

Thumbnail for Nonhuman gardens?

Nonhuman gardens?

If nonhuman animals made gardens, or if…

Thumbnail for Participate in green area mapping!

Participate in green area mapping!

Help us get to know better the urban…

Thumbnail for Participate in our public participatory park mapping survey!

Participate in our public participatory park mapping survey!

Bioveins is starting a new survey to…

Thumbnail for Art posters for you

Art posters for you

We made posters to give away.

Thumbnail for Remarkable Trees

Remarkable Trees

Are there remarkable trees in cities?

Thumbnail for Ruins!

Ruins!

Ruins are poignant because they point…

Thumbnail for Methods in ecology: counting things and sampling

Methods in ecology: counting things and sampling

You do ecology by counting things. But…

Thumbnail for Some facts about the urban habitat

Some facts about the urban habitat

What kind human habitat is a city?

Thumbnail for strawbAIRies!

strawbAIRies!

Strawberries and bacon-and-eggs:…

Thumbnail for Structural heterogeneity

Structural heterogeneity

What makes me enjoy certain gardens…

Thumbnail for Succession vs. land-use change

Succession vs. land-use change

In past posts we have talked about how…

Thumbnail for Surveillance and urban nature

Surveillance and urban nature

What does surveillance, data, and…

Thumbnail for Think like a large disturbance-making omnivore

Think like a large disturbance-making omnivore

A recent paper in Science summarizes…

Thumbnail for Urban pastoralism

Urban pastoralism

Recently I saw some eco-sheep in Paris.

Thumbnail for Urban transformative capacity

Urban transformative capacity

How to create an ideal city (?)

Thumbnail for Urban transformative capacity 2

Urban transformative capacity 2

Biopolis Summer School in Biology and…

Thumbnail for We love trees

We love trees

A real and an imaginary art exhibition…

Thumbnail for What are gardens?

What are gardens?

I consulted a couple of books about…

Thumbnail for What does it feel like to be an urban animal?

What does it feel like to be an urban animal?

Analogies from a city in chaos

Thumbnail for What is ecology?

What is ecology?

Ecology is the study of living things…

Thumbnail for Its World Bee Day!

Its World Bee Day!

Every day that the world keeps on…

Thumbnail for World Cities Day

World Cities Day

Today is World Cities Day, promoted by…