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Green Landscaping: Greenacres

Landscaping with Native Plants

Exploring the Environmental, Social and Economic Benefits Conference:  December 6 - 7, 2004

Attachment A
Landscaping with Native Plants Research Needs


Native landscaping is promoted as a means to improve the quality of the air, soil and water, help to prevent flooding, control erosion, and enhance biodiversity. Native landscaping is also seen as a tool for sustainable urban development, as a means for reintroducing the natural heritage of an area, and as a vehicle for connecting urban residents to the natural world and promoting a conservation culture.

But how well are these various attributes on native landscaping quantified in the scientific literature? To answer this question U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; DePaul University’s Environmental Science Program and Institute for Nature and Culture, and  Chicago Department of Environment organized  a conference, Landscaping with Native Plants: Exploring the Environmental, Social and Economic Benefits, in Chicago in December 2004. Researchers evaluated the scientific literature pertinent to the Great Lakes basin to determine the current state of knowledge on native landscaping and its environmental, social and economic interactions. Close to 200 researchers, government officials, development professionals, environmentalists, landscape architects, civil engineers, natural resource managers and others reviewed the evidence.

During the conference we found that while there are many anecdotal stories about the benefits of native plants in the landscape, there are very few rigorous scientific studies quantifying the benefits. Many questions remain unanswered.  Based on a review of existing literature and on gap analysis discussions during the conference, we developed the following native landscaping research needs.

Public Perception - Research Questions



Public Knowledge

Economics of Native Landscaping – Research Questions



Hydrology – Research Questions

Water quantity and quality           


Plant Properties

Air Quality – Research Questions



Air Impacts


To carry out the above information these are some of the Basic Information Requirements

Biodiversity – Research Questions

Species and Community Composition

Physical Form



Ecosystem Function

Regional Biodiversity and Fragmentation

Definition and Methodology

Soil – Research Questions


Pesticides and Fertilizers:

Urban Carbon Sequestration


Experiments should account for the indirect carbon effects of native and conventional urban landscaping, such as the carbon produced during the manufacturing and application  of fertilizer, or benefits of reduced energy needs.  (e.g. planting to reduce the heat island effect could reduce reliance on air conditioning and generate savings in fossil fuel emissions.)

Phytoremediation – Research Questions



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