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Ecology & Culture in Design

02/08/2018 at 1:00 pm - 8:30 pm


Half Day/Evening Interactive Forum in Christchurch, Thurs 2nd August, 2018

Venue: to be announced; please RSVP to meurkc@landcareresearch.co.nz by 25th Jul.

Hosts: Prof Mark Hostetler – urban ecologist, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Dr Colin Meurk – landscape ecologist, Manaaki Whenua-Landcare Research Associate

Supported by CCC, OPUS, BECA, NZILA, ECan, Matapopore

Time for a refresh? Share experience of barriers & solutions to biodiversity problems in cultural landscapes; upskill in cultural legibility, reflect on authentic place-making; build ecological & cultural integrity within our visual and functional world – through policy & design.

Focus on: ‘can-do’, ‘how-to’ solutions – policies, costs, communication, ecological theory to practice, cultural factors and design that facilitate integration of biodiversity into urban/rural environments.

Audience: Applied ecologists, Landscape Architects, environmental & roading engineers, developers, planners, local & central government managers, gardeners, those interested in celebrating heritage.

Future: There is a lot of stuff here and if successful this won’t be the end, but a start!

Cost: a koha of ca $10 will help with food costs… sponsorship pending.


Programme: walkabout – interactive presentations – refreshments – facilitated discussion

1300: Assemble outside C1 Coffee (Corner Tuam and High Streets) – walk through greyfields, E Frame, Cathedral Sq, Victoria Sq, Old Council Chambers, Water Mark, Art Gallery and Arts Centre

1445: Intro & Afternoon tea at venue

1500: series of interactive presentations on themes from field and topics appended below …

1500-1540: Colin Meurk/Robyn Simcock (soil scientist & creative integrator of nature into ES) – integrating (plant) biodiversity into urban environments

1540-1600: Antony Shadbolt (CCC Ecologist) – A view from within

1600-1630: Craig Pauling (Ngai Tahu) – cultural legibility and how to achieve it

1630-1700: Debbie Tikao (Matapopore) – reflections on place-making and partnership

1700-1730: Prof Mark Hostetler – Policy & Governance regarding green infrastructure – experience from urban development in Florida and NZ

1730-1800: Anne Lassé & Wayne Rimmer – facilitate Question time

1800-1830: pizza, blessing, drinks, informal discussion, socialising

1830-1845: Prof Mark Hostetler/Antony Shadbolt – novel opportunities for wildlife in cities

1845-2015: Mark/Colin – facilitated discussion, distilling principles, recommendations, actions and priorities; where to from here …?

2015-2030: final word, karakia


Topics bolded are items that NZILA feedback reinforced; and other items will be touched on incidentally – during walkabout, during interactive presentations, and in evening discussion.

  • Biodiversity Policies fit for purpose and duty – how to rationalise H&S, tree, traffic & aesthetic conventions with biodiversity, social and ecological imperatives, contractual ‘build and maintain’ constraints (time versus ecology)
  • Achieving Natural and Cultural legibility (plus eco-sourcing)
  • Interpretation & deep messaging – information, symbolism, signage, subtlety, subliminal
  • Place-making – the role of plants, wildlife, cultural fabric and interwoven stories, genealogy (eco-sourcing) in sense of place, identity
  • Extinction of Experience – role of dominance, subordination and subjugation; noble trees of here and elsewhere – how to redress imbalance; what native street trees can be employed?
  • Conflict of values – Nassauer’s solution (messy ecosystems, tidy frames – or some adaptation of this!) – tidy Urban wild
  • Biodiversity vs benign Recombinance vs Biosecurity risk (avoid) – role of native and exotic species in balanced design
  • Ecological sustainability, Ecosystem services including carbon-sequestration, resilience to climate change; Biophilic cities, Resilient cities, Green cities (how do we rank?)
  • Grimes CSR framework (stress and disturbance) to inform design and management of non-forest ecosystems – e.g. role of soils in managing design/succession
  • Successional trajectories – assembly rules – being aware of natural dynamics – inhibiting succession
  • Connectivity – optimal patch size and configuration, sanctuaries and haloes, edge effects and buffers, stepping stones, corridors (pathways – for wildlife and people) and the matrix where people interact with nature
  • Well-being, ‘forest bathing’, overcoming ‘nature deficit disorder’, ‘safer parks’ issues.
  • Tourism and economy
  • And anything else you bring to the table


Note from Mark on Focal points: identify & record several key practices (related to biodiversity/natural resource conservation) that seem lacking in (successful) implementation in and around cities? Thru discussion arrive at solutions that would help to properly implement such practices. Along the way, identify key research gaps.


1:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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