Photo by Guy Kramer

Ah, summertime. It’s so pleasant to sit or play in the shade of a tree, whether enjoying a latte or ice cream, playing in a canopy-covered landscape, sitting on a bench next to a small creek flowing through the park, watching birds, exploring nature.

Even small, green, open space is enough to anchor us in the joy of the outdoors, settle our minds, and take a break from the stress of our busy lives.

A new (2018) publication by University of Washington Research Social Scientist, Kathleen Wolf and the Nature Conservancy highlights how the benefits of nature can be made more accessible in our communities through well-planned green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) elements incorporated into the landscape.

GSI not only improves upon the performance of traditional below ground “gray” infrastructure that captures and relocates stormwater but when well-designed, can make neighborhoods and communities more inviting places to live while providing a multitude of co-benefits.

“Cascading Benefits, Designing Green Stormwater Infrastructure for Human Wellness” (Wolf, K.L., The Nature Conservancy. 2018. Seattle, WA, The Nature Conservancy) introduces the concept of GSI built for the co-benefits of stormwater management and human well-being.

The publication challenges us to look at a new concept in city planning, one that incorporates GSI as “near-by nature” in a holistic way.

Planning on a larger, more integrated scale enhances the efficacy of structures to manage stormwater on a level that replicates natural ecological functions while enhancing neighborhoods and providing human health benefits.

It’s a great and intriguing challenge! Integrated GSI examples are detailed in the booklet and illustrated with photos of successful and inspiring projects. There is a section that suggests principles and ideas for well-designed GSI that contributes to human health and wellness.

Are you ready to take the challenge? Or encourage community leaders to accept the challenge? You can find “Cascading Benefits: Designing Green Stormwater Infrastructure for Human Wellness” online. DNR UCF has a limited number of hard-copy booklets for distribution. If you’d like one to share with your community decision-makers, contact us to request a copy.

By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program

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