Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)

Legacy Department

Landscape Architecture

Advisor

Powers, Matthew

Committee Member

Russell , Paul

Committee Member

Ford , Dan

Abstract

Landscapes are mosaics of patches and corridors which are formed by hills, different soils types, vegetation patchiness, natural disturbances and human activities. As humans have developed, the patches and corridors have become fragmented and edges have been created. These edges become the critical points of interaction for wildlife with their surroundings. This is especially true in urban areas where development has created harsh edge environments.
This study investigates the edge structure of Olmsted's Emerald Necklace to understand how edges can be designed to create habitat for wildlife in urban areas. The Emerald Necklace is located in Boston, MA and was designed in the 1800s by Frederick Law Olmsted. The Necklace is the first designed greenway and has been used as a model by many cities throughout the country. As such, the Emerald Necklace can be studied to gain insight into how the edges of an urban greenway can be designed to augment animal diversity in urban areas. The goal of the study is to provide design recommendations that can be used as a guide by landscape architects to maintain current urban greenways and to plan future ones.
The study's major findings suggest that plant and animal species vary along the park as per the original design. Additional findings show that there is no separation of spaces for people and animals along the Necklace which can lead to habitat disturbance. In addition eight design recommendations are suggested to improve the current conditions of the Emerald Necklace. Moreover the recommendations are not site specific and can be applied to other existing and future urban greenways. These include protecting existing habitat, using native plants and eradicating invasive species. The results and findings are discussed in further detail. Overall the Emerald Necklace is ecologically healthy and provides functions for both people and animals.

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