Synthesis: The Realities of Ecological Restoration in Urban Centers

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Dr Steven Handel, Rutgers University/Center for Urban Restoration Ecology
Symposium:
What is Local? Genetics & Plant Selection in the Urban Context. (Tuesday, May 23, 2006, American Museum of Natural History)

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Synthesis: The Realities of Ecological Restoration in Urban Centers

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  3. Ecological Opportunities <ul><li>Restore natural heritage of the site </li></ul><ul><li>Restore ecological functions </li></ul><ul><li>Minimize, but not eliminate, management needs and costs </li></ul><ul><li>Improve biodiversity in surrounding areas </li></ul><ul><li>Add ecological resiliency for the future </li></ul>
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  5. Ecological influences on birth and death <ul><li>Recruitment of seedlings </li></ul><ul><li>Gene flow by seeds </li></ul><ul><li>Gene flow by pollen </li></ul><ul><li>Habitat change/special requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Management actions/inactions </li></ul><ul><li>Finding the right genotypes </li></ul>
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  7. Urban Soils <ul><li>Variable </li></ul><ul><li>Compaction </li></ul><ul><li>Hydrophobic crust </li></ul><ul><li>Elevated pH </li></ul><ul><li>Restricted aeration and water drainage </li></ul><ul><li>Nutrient cycling and soil organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Pollution </li></ul><ul><li>Higher soil temperature </li></ul>
  8. Genetic Communication in Plants <ul><li>Gene flow by seed </li></ul><ul><li>Gene flow by pollen </li></ul><ul><li>Dispersal by clonal fragments </li></ul>
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  14. California Geographical Survey, http://geogdata.csun.edu/NYpage1.html New York City Parks, http://www.nycgovparks.org New York City Flushing Meadows Park, Corona, Queens NYC N
  15. <ul><li>GENERAL </li></ul><ul><li>Physical properties of site were poorly characterized </li></ul><ul><li>Removal of Phragmites was not permitted </li></ul><ul><li>Stolen plants </li></ul><ul><li>Arson </li></ul><ul><li>No vegetation management or monitoring </li></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of funds after 3-yr period </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No public access or education plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public access now impossible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No community interest or support group exists </li></ul></ul>The Story: Problems
  16. <ul><li>GENERAL </li></ul><ul><li>Biodiversity increased from initial survey </li></ul><ul><li>Habitat complexity is greater </li></ul><ul><ul><li>from straight Phragmites to mosaic of uplands, wetlands, herbs, lake </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increased understanding for future urban restorations </li></ul><ul><li>Site closure has eliminated vandalism ( i.e., arson, dumping, theft) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a trade-off in urban environmental management may be necessary? </li></ul></ul>The Story: Successes
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  18. Protocol….. <ul><li>Identify collection sites </li></ul><ul><li>Collect abundant seed </li></ul><ul><li>Grow thousands of each species at the Greenbelt Nursery </li></ul><ul><li>Identify experiment sites </li></ul><ul><li>Plant experiment gardens </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain, monitor, and collect data </li></ul><ul><li>Analyze at Rutgers University laboratory </li></ul>
  19. Sites for experimental gardens <ul><li>Fresh Kills Landfill, NYC </li></ul><ul><li>Drier-Offerman Park, NYC </li></ul><ul><li>Belt Parkway, NYC </li></ul><ul><li>Duke Farms post-agricultural fields </li></ul><ul><li>Brownfield at U.S. EPA site, Edison, NJ </li></ul><ul><li>(NYC Parks & Rec; Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Rutgers University) </li></ul>
  20. Brooklyn Bridge Park: Proposed Habitats (Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates) East River Brooklyn Heights
  21. Proposed Habitat Types <ul><li>Woodlands and shrublands </li></ul><ul><li>Freshwater wetlands and swales </li></ul><ul><li>Meadows </li></ul><ul><li>Dunescapes </li></ul><ul><li>Salt marsh </li></ul><ul><li>Submarine habitat </li></ul><ul><li>Rookeries </li></ul>
  22. Current Brooklyn Waterfront
  23. Proposed Promenade, Brooklyn Bridge Park
  24. Ecological Constraints <ul><li>Dispersal into the site is limited </li></ul><ul><li>Degraded plant and animal communities </li></ul><ul><li>Soil quality and biota is poor </li></ul><ul><li>Invasive species are lurking </li></ul><ul><li>Changed, stressful climate </li></ul>
  25. Regulatory Constraints <ul><li>Engineering goals are not congruent to ecological goals </li></ul><ul><li>Rooting zone is poor </li></ul><ul><li>Disturbance regimes lacking </li></ul><ul><li>Phasing of construction not driven by ecological rules alone </li></ul>
  26. Social Constraints <ul><li>Beauty and the eye of the beholder </li></ul><ul><li>Different strokes for different folks </li></ul><ul><li>The numbers game </li></ul><ul><li>I vant to be alone </li></ul><ul><li>Here comes the sun </li></ul>
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