Abstract

Global climate change threatens the structure and function of ecological communities in urban areas, including public and private gardens. An adaptation strategy was developed to accommodate the challenges of urban greenspace design under a changing climate. The strategy offers a protocol for planting design that focuses on adding resilience to plantings rather than matching specific plant species to specific predictions of climate change. The adaptation strategy begins by rating locally appropriate plant species on ecological criteria for plasticity, functional redundancy, response diversity, and structural diversity. The plant palette is then developed within the confines set by ecological value and aesthetic goals, plus cultural and financial considerations. Collective application of the strategy at smaller scales across the urban landscape has the potential to protect and expand nature corridors that are resilient to climate change and to provide a low cost version of assisted migration. Examples of how to apply the adaptation strategy demonstrate that the approach is not specific to place or scale, and does not require extensive training or bring added expense. The benefits and manageable challenges of the strategy are discussed in relation to biodiversity conservation, social impact, the opportunity for “designed” experiments that examine urban ecosystem processes, and existing model forecasts for climate change.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1553-2704
Print ISSN
0277-2426
Pages
pp. 173-193
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-20
Open Access
No
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