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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Architecture, development and ecology : Garry Oak and Peri - urban Victoria Mackin, Nancy


This thesis seeks to explain how site-scale design decisions can assist retention of rare plant communities concentrated in and near settled areas. To do so it focuses on a specific species and development context. Explanations are sought through examination of case studies of landuse developments in proximity to retained Garry oak plant communities located in the perimeter of Victoria, British Columbia. In the study region, exponential declines in species populations, health, and diversity of rare Garry oak ecosystems have been largely attributed to impacts from land-use developments. Over the past century, land-use developments have transformed the floral, spatial, structural and functional characteristics of the settled landscape. Isolated islands of imperiled plant associations remain on protected bioreserves: for recruitment and connectivity, these rare fauna rely on private-land greenways. Architectural teams have the potential to influence the decision-making processes that create ecologically-vital greenspace on private land, thereby enhancing survival for declining plant communities. Case-study evidence for the importance of land-use decisions on diminishing Garry oak meadow is gathered through vegetation surveys conducted on Garry oak meadow in proximity to six architectural projects on Victoria's western edge. Observed changes in growth extensions are then categorized in relation to human activities associated with built form, and correlated with principles from Landscape Ecology. An ARC of design strategies, developed in primary research by K. D. Rothley is adapted for architectural use as follows: firstly, AREA of a plant community is kept free of encroachment by the orderly frame established around vegetation; secondly, RARE SPECIES and habitat are identified with borders or signage; thirdly, CONNECTIVITY between retained landscapes is secured by siting roads and buildings to minimize ecosystem fragmentation. To effectively communicate preexisting landscape ecology principles, grouped under the ARC of strategies, illustrations and key-word phrases are developed. These principles, when integrated into architectural teams' structural knowledge, extend the architects' perceived role beyond aesthetics and economic efficiency. Enhancing habitat value through retention or restoration of rare ecosystems at the margins of suburban development, becomes an additional realm of influence for professional teams designing the spatial configurations of peri-urban landscapes.

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