Jun 20, 2019

SFEI partnered with the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority to create a guide for how to support biodiversity across the urbanized landscape of Santa Clara Valley. Urban greening projects, such as street trees, green infrastructure, and backyard gardening, are already occurring piecemeal across urban areas. Harnessing this momentum can help these efforts build greater benefits for biodiversity. Ultimately, building greater support for biodiversity can help cultivate a sense of place and provide benefits to nature as well as human health.

Integrating urban biodiversity science, landscape history, and analysis of local setting, the Urban Ecological Planning Guide provides a set of tools to design for local ecology. This project builds on SFEI’s work in the region, including historical ecology of the Santa Clara Valley, Re-oaking Silicon Valley, and the Landscape Resilience Framework. Intended for a broad audience, this report can help public agencies, nonprofits, city planners, and others to design projects with ecology in mind.

In this report, we explore landscape context and historical ecology to understand landscape patterns, processes and potential. We outline approaches for coordinating projects to support biodiversity across the landscape, and pathways to implementation across land uses and stakeholders--at the site scale and programmatic level. We identify how to use historical and contemporary information to select habitat goals, provide locally-relevant plant lists, and highlight other factors that may impact plant selection and sourcing, such as climate change and plant pathogens. Last, we discuss practical, planning, and policy drivers that may affect on-the-ground implementation and provide a list of supporting resources. 

This report can provide guidance for how to coordinate multiple stakeholders to create urban greening projects that work together to build support for biodiversity. Users of this report may include a wide range of entities, such as local nonprofits, public agencies, city planners, and applicants to the Open Space Authority’s Urban Open Space Grant Program. The information provided is most pertinent to Santa Clara County, but the broad approach and guidance could be useful in other geographies. 

For more information, contact Erica Spotswood ([email protected]).

Associated Staff: 
Other Contributors: 
Steve Hagerty
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Resilient Landscapes Program
Urban Nature Lab