The People/Nature Approach to Parks Planning

Sunday, May 7, 2017 | 8 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.
CM | 1.25
Add to My Log

You'll learn about:

  • The importance of balancing recreation needs and ecological health.

  • Why the old park planning approach and maxims have become obsolete in today's changing environment.

  • How the people-nature approach and other needs-based and experiential approaches can benefit all cities.

  • Why nature in the City is important to everyone and how it can be re-created in the built environment.

Cities are constantly changing, methods of park planning not so much.  A more flexible approach to respond to trends in recreation and leisure activities, in addition to demographic, climatic, and economic changes is needed.  While every city is unique, a large part of Portland, Oregon's open space system is comprised of natural areas with distinctive features: rivers, lakes, streams, buttes, sloughs, wetlands, bluffs, and over 1.4 million trees.  Nature permeates the city.  Balancing access, use and protection of these spaces is critical.

The days of prescriptive and standards-based park planning -- "one tennis court for every 10,000 residents" -- are ending.  Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R) is developing a Park System Plan based on approaches such as the recreational opportunity spectrum (ROS), the Net Benefits Approach to Leisure (NBAL), and is using park survey data and nature research to move toward an experiential and needs-centered model of park planning.  The basic formula for defining the parks and recreation experience is:  People + Activities + Settings = Experiences.

 There is a full spectrum of park settings in Portland, from the most remote and inaccessible forest, to the most intensively used public square, full of people at all hours, with few trees or other plantings.  Each setting has unique qualities that make it appropriate (or inappropriate) for different types and intensity of recreation use.  A single park may have multiple settings.  The Park System Plan seeks to manage people and activities in order to maintain the integrity, function, and quality of the recreation experience, and to bring nature -- in the form of habitat patches -- into parts of the city that are built out.  This session will inform planners about how this new model is being developed and implemented, the importance of nature in the city, how it can be adapted for use in other cities, and about how it is changing the traditional approach to parks planning.



Brett Horner , City Of Portland , Portland , OR (see bio)
Peter Harnik , Trust for Public Land , Washington , DC (see bio)