Designing Wetlands as an Essential Infrastructural Element for Urban Development in the era of Climate Change




Ahn, Changwoo
Schmidt, Stephanie

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The increasing development of urban infrastructure has led to the significant loss of natural wetlands and their ecosystem services. Many novel urban development projects currently attempt to incorporate environmental sustainability, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and community engagement into the intricate challenges we all face in an era of climate change. This paper aims to communicate several key findings on design elements that can be adopted or incorporated in the design of created wetlands as infrastructural elements. Three major design elements—microtopography, hydrologic connectivity, and planting diversity—are presented, and their relations to restoring ecosystem services of urban wetlands, in particular water and habitat quality, are discussed. These design elements can be easily adopted or incorporated in the planning, designing, and construction stages of urban development. The success of urban infrastructure projects may require both better communication among stakeholders and a great deal of community engagement. The Rain Project, a floating wetland project on an urban college campus, demonstrates the role of interdisciplinary collaboration and community engagement as a model for sustainable stormwater management, a critical part of today’s urban development. Further efforts should be made to advance the science of designing urban wetlands and its communication to transform cultural attitudes toward sustainable urban development.