Beyond ecological modelling: Ground-truthing connectivity conservation networks through a design charrette in Western Australia

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Journal Article
Landscape and Urban Planning, 2014
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Globally, connectivity conservation projects exist across all inhabited continents. Typically created through Geographical Information Systems and modelling processes at regional and even continental scales, these projects are seldom evaluated or 'ground-truthed' for their potential application at the local level where land use is fully allocated and replete with human occupation. This article reviews the accuracy of one such continental-scale connectivity conservation network, the National Green Network, through assessment and redesign by a design charrette at the local scale in York, Western Australia. Breaking with traditional process, this research considered the National Green Network model not as a final plan, but as point of departure for an iterative adjustment and redesign process through the charrette and an additional detailed design stage. Commonplace in architecture and urban planning disciplines, the application of charrettes to connectivity conservation design offers the benefits of improving design accuracy and enhancing their potential for implementation through providing valuable feedback and iterative design adjustment. The fine-tuning conducted by this research enabled the design to factor in human land-uses and influences across complex landscapes, while considering in a critical manner cultural factors that could also influence the system's design and its success. The framing of the network as green infrastructure rather than as connectivity conservation in addition to further illustration by the landscape architect provided a spectrum of both ecological and cultural outcomes across the case study landscape, demonstrating potential impacts and opportunities offered through a series of spatially accurate and ground-truthed plans.
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