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NATURAL PROCESS

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Revealing and Experiencing Natural Process: Urban Forest Rehabilitation in Upper Onondaga Park by Michael Doherty Faculty of Landscape Architecture SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse, New York December 2004 ________________________________________________________________________ APPROVED BY Major Professor: ________________________________________ Date: __________ Committee Member:_____________________________________ Date: __________ Chair, Faculty of Landscape Architecture:____________________ Date: __________Table of Contents 1. Abstract 3 2. Project Affiliation and Site 3 3. Introduction 4 4. Literature Review 7 4.a Urban Forests 7 4.a.a. Effects of Urban Forests 8 4.b Restoration, Reforestation or Rehabilitation 10 4.c. Natural Succession 12 4.d Managed Succession 15 5. Goals and Objectives 17 6. Methods 18 6.a Rehabilitation Methods 18 6.a.a. Natural Techniques 18 6.a.a.a. Seed Bank 18 6.a.a.b. Seed Trees 19 6.a.a.c. Shelterwood 19 6.a.b. Managed Techniques 20 6.a.b.a. Planting Species 20 6.a.b.b. Direct Seeding 20 6.b. Species Inventory and Stand Composition Data 21 6.b.a. Inventory 21 6.b.b. Calculations based on Inventory 22 6.c. Field Studies 24 6.c.a. Seed Fall Analysis 24 6.c.b. Seed Bank Analysis 25 6.d. Reference Stand Data 25 7. Products 26 7.a. Rehabilitation Plan 27 7.b. Rehabilitation Schedule 29 7.c Designs 33 8. Project Schedule 34 9. Reference List 34 10. Appendix 39 12. Vita__________________________________________________________________401. Abstract Through research and design the importance of urban forests has become increasingly more apparent over the past few decades. However, many urban centers have not fully embraced their current urban vegetation or capitalized on projects that could have expanded the beneficial qualities of their urban forests. This project is intended to demonstrate the inherent necessity, complexities, functions and aesthetics of the urban forest, through a process of vegetative rehabilitation that promotes the natural processes of succession. The process of rehabilitation will take place on a site within the city of Syracuse’s Upper Onondaga Park. Redevelopment of this area can create a landscape that contributes to the social, ecologic, economic, and aesthetic condition of the city of Syracuse. Through both natural and managed regeneration techniques a rehabilitation plan and schedule will be developed that guides and influences a series of phased site designs. Through the implementation of the rehabilitation plan and schedule, each site design will highlight the processes of succession taking place on site. Site designs will allow residents and visitors of Syracuse to experience, observe, learn about and appreciate natural processes within an urban environment. This project will allow for the immersion of park users in the inherent processes of an evolving landscape, resulting in an urban park that is rich in social as well as ecological diversity. 2. Project Affiliation and Site This project is intended to contribute to the exhibit, landscape and garden designs pursuant to the Onondaga Botanical Garden and Arboretum Master Plan, released the summer of 2004. The area of focus for this project is the hillside surrounding the fire barn located on SummitAvenue in Upper Onondaga Park, Syracuse, New York. As detailed in the Master Plan this area is to exhibit native New York State hardwood forest plant communities. The site’s area is approximately 7.4 acres. 3. Introduction Generally within urban public parks of the United States, the vegetation is nothing more than a stand of trees in an expansive sea of turf grasses. This design typology amounts to an urban forest with no future; a design aesthetic based on declining old-growth trees, within a static environment. This environment is derived from the “perception of nature that sees beauty in decay rather than in the vitality of continuing life” (Hough 2001, p.112). Urban design values have become more concerned with plants as individual phenomena rather than part of an ecological community, which has led to aesthetic conventions working in opposition to ecological sustainability. Urban plants have become relegated to a single purpose of beautifying space, reducing their inherent biological roles concerning air, water and soil. This reduction in function has created an increasing need for design methods that embrace urban vegetation as functional communities that can be used to create more sustainable urban ecosystems. Design methods and aesthetics need to contribute, not only to the beauty of space, but also to the positive ecological footprint of our cities. While Upper Onondaga Park contributes to the social and recreational opportunities of the surrounding communities and the city of Syracuse as a whole, it is felt that the area is lacking the ecological integrity a large urban park can contribute to the city’s residents and visitors. The evolution of the park’s landscapes, initiated by the Onondaga Botanical Garden andArboretum Master Plan, will build on the foundation of existing users and activities to expand opportunities within the park to encompass not only social and recreational activities but also new educational, ecological and aesthetic opportunities as well. While it is possible for some to travel to areas outside the city of Syracuse to view and experience “natural” environments, many urban residents do not have the time or means to do so. Through this project there is a tremendous potential to provide a landscape, which is not a typical urban park, for city residents and visitors to socialize, relax, and learn in; to create a landscape rich in social as well as ecological diversity. The site in Upper Onondaga Park will become a recovering landscape, connoting a type of landscape as well as an active process of change. The basis for this change will be rehabilitation through a program of natural and managed succession techniques. Through rehabilitation the hillside will become an uneven-aged stand of trees with a multi-layered understory. The evolving succession stages, assisted with plantings, will create the now non-existent understory growth. The development of an understory will fill in gaps in the present canopy, will


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