Landscape Architect & Specifier News

JAN 2019

LASN is a photographically oriented, professional journal featuring topics of concern and state-of-the-art projects designed or influenced by registered Landscape Architects.

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Liberty State Park is an extraordinary and unique public resource. With the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as a spectacular backdrop, it is one of the nation's most visited state parks. In the center of the park there remains approximately 251 acres, the former railroad yard, which is undeveloped. Much of the area has been re-colonized by various plant communities. These communities represent unique associations of both endemic and non-native species that can be considered the result of the cultural events that have taken place during the past several centuries. This post-industrial landscape represents the leading edge of the movement to convert urban brownfields into open green space. However, before such restoration initiatives can be undertaken, and reasonable objectives established, a clear understanding of these new ecologies and the risk associated with the contaminated soils has to be undertaken. While numerous studies over the past several decades have described the impairment of ecological integrity associated with urbanization, few attempts have been made to clearly define and quantify the ecological functions and services of urban green-space. Those studies that do attempt to define urban ecology generally use biodiversity, as the primary metric. They take the traditional approach of comparing an index of measured urban diversity to a hypothetical historic reference. Couched in terms of ecological resilience, they generally prescribe to the theory that species richness can be positively correlated with ecosystem stability and, to a lesser degree, function. The Urban Forestry Lab at Rutgers State University seeks to further define ecological function as a product of assembly theory, focused on urban novel communities where their vitality may not be connected to species richness. We attempt to establish new references, associated with the urban environment that focus on the ecological function such as, carbon and nitrogen cycling, hydrology and the mitigation of those contaminants typically associated with the urban soils of novel urban assemblages. Novel assemblages, often referred to as "urban wildlands," appear to function in spite of the environmental stressors of the urban environment. They developed unique patterns of species diversity and distribution; models of primary productivity and carbon sequestration that are driven by threshold tolerances to soil conditions, and can develop along nontraditional community trajectories. January 2019 67 Liberty State Park A Study on Contamination and Redevelopment by Frank Gallagher, Ph.D.

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