Edmonton is increasingly naturalizing green spaces. Here's what that means
The city hopes to bring greater awareness to the importance of Edmonton’s Naturalization Program.
For more than 25 years, Edmonton has been working to revert parts of the city to a more natural state, according to the city.
The city naturalizes areas in an effort to protect the land, air, water, and biodiversity.
“United Nations declared this decade the decade of restoration. It is a call to action for every city and country around the world in preventing, halting, and reversing the degradation of the environment,” said Nicole Fraser, the city’s general supervisor of parks and road services branch.
“Naturalization is one of the ways we are building a healthy climate and resilient city for future residents,” she added, speaking on a tour of a naturalized area of the Storm Water Management Facility at Grange Community on Wednesday.
The city wants input from Edmontonians on the naturalization program and is looking to educate the community on why their surroundings are slowly changing including longer grass, introduction of native species, and more insect and animal species.
“We definitely hear a mix of people’s opinions on what type of aesthetic they would prefer. Some people really prefer the manicured, mowed, no weeds at all, no long grass type of aesthetic. Other people prefer something more natural and naturalized,” said Fraser.
The city presented a list of economic and environmental benefits.
• Avoiding overloaded drainage systems and lower risk of flooding
• Reduced maintenance cost such as mowing
• A sustainable local food production
• Native plants, birds, and wildlife are able to re-establish themselves
• Food for native pollinator species and plants
• Plants reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases
• Plants stabilizing slopes and preventing erosion
• Providing windbreaks for snow capture and dust reduction
The program is designed to improve quality of life through improving Edmonton’s aesthetic and encourage people to spend time outdoors.
Catherine Falk, landscape technician with the City of Edmonton, says the city will not naturalize high-use park areas such as soccer fields.
“It is definitely a balancing act and we want to listen to the community on their needs and how they use those area so that we can understand that,” said Falk.
Since 2014, a total of 280 hectares of maintained parkland has been naturalized, according to the city.
“Spending time in nature helps reduce stress and a lot of the stresses of the world. If you go out and spend 10 minutes in nature, you will feel rejuvenated,” said Falk.
In the beginning stages of naturalization, Edmontonians should expect to see long grasses, small trees, and shrubs.
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