The reality in San Antonio is not, after all, uncommon; many landscape designers have had the experience of completing a project only to later see maintenance fail to uphold the integrity of original plans.
By switching to the ecosystem approach, cities can enjoy a wide range of benefits collectively known as ecosystem services. These include enhanced beauty and recreational value, food and shelter for wildlife, stabilizing stream and river banks, filtering pollutants from water and air, sequestering carbon, and reducing the urban heat island effect – a phenomenon where cities experience higher temperatures than surrounding areas due to impermeable cover replacing open land and vegetation.
These functioning ecosystems can be created in both traditional settings, such as parks and roadsides, and novel ones, such as green roofs and rain gardens. A parking garage can become shady pollinator habitat, for example, and concrete stormwater culverts can be transformed to richly diverse wetlands. Make the switch in enough space and a city begins to function as an urban preserve. –(December 2015) by Melissa Gaskill for the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center web page. The article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Wildflower magazine.