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American Society of Landscape Architects


May 2008 Issue

Hot in My Backyard
Visualizations of our future landscapes can help landscape architects plan for climate change.

By David Flanders, Stephen R. J. Sheppard, ASLA, Alison Shaw, and Sarah Burch

Hot in My Backyard David Flanders, CALP/DCS, UBC

What do climate change impacts look like? How will they affect our lives? What do low-carbon, resilient communities look like? How would they work, and how will the necessary radical changes be made without antagonizing local stakeholders and the public? Landscape architects and researchers at the University of British Columbia have been working with climate scientists, planners, engineers, and community stakeholders in the Metro Vancouver area to provide some answers to these questions. The Local Climate Change Visioning Project creates compelling imagery of climate change futures and our response options to help bridge the gap between science and local implementation.

The visioning packages produced in this study were driven by two major data sources: scientific climate models and community input. Invitations to participate in three sequential workshops were sent out to community representatives, including residents, farmers, researchers, industry members, and experts familiar with the area. The first workshop was an introductory exercise, brainstorming the climate change issues relevant to the community. The second was a collaborative mapping workshop, where participants were asked to refine the list of issues to a mapped subset and prioritize conditions to be visualized. The final workshop involved reviewing and refining an initial set of visualizations with the community.

Climate Change Scenarios

The project frames climate change in four future worlds, each relating to regionally scaled climate models:

World 1: Do Nothing. This world is a scientifically based worst-case scenario or high-carbon world, where we have done nothing globally or locally to adapt to or minimize the impacts of climate change.

World 2: Adapt to Risk. This world shows some proactive design and planning adaptations needed to address the worst-case climate change scenario pictured in World 1.

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