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Greenways a guide to planning, design and development


Book reviews/Landscape

and Urban Planning 33 (1995) 477480

The global scope of such an endeavor requires additional information outlining the role of simulated options, education, the responsibilities of individual landowners, and new legal devices for local application. How the breadth of talent necessary is defined depends on new agencies and organizations, and revamped old ones to design creatively a counter-attack to the present assault on the natural world, of which we humans are an integral part. If a snake were to eat itself, beginning with the tail, destruction would be permanent with the beginning of the digestive process when a complex organism is reduced to its elementary components. Parts of our worldwide system are in the process of disintegration and dispersal. The Ecology of Greenways provides an important component of a process yet to be devised. In the readings we can overlook a lack of seamless integration of the thoughts presented by seven different authors because, with practice, the addition of their thoughts and work can further the evolution of the process for holistic, constructive analysis and design. The Ecology of Greenways has assembled a wealth of information, in a needed format that more of society must, in the future, understand if our necessary resources are to provide a meaningful survival for all of us. Paul Hellmund summarizes the value of this book in another earlier quote from Aldo Leopold’s book on wildlife management where he advises readers that the techniques described “represent examples of how to think, observe, deduce, and experiment rather than specifications of what to do”. As Paul Hellmund advises, designers should not view the method as rigid nor be afraid to pursue alternative questions and make improvements appropriate to their own project.
PHILIP H. LEWIS University of Wisconsin Madison, WI 53706 USA

Greenways: a guide to planning, design and development
Greenways: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Development. Charles A. Flink and Robert M. Searns,

Island Press, Washington,

DC, 352 pp.

Those of us who have felt despair seeing yet another “For Sale: Subdivided l/Caere lots” sign along an enjoyed walking path, or have spent most of their last bicycle ride dodging cars and assaulting curbs, should be grateful for Flink and Seams Greenways: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Development. If we heed the phrase “Don’t agonize, organize,” then this book gives us the well structured and comprehensive guidance necessary to organize the design and development of connecting systems of paths and waterways. This book’s content grows from strong roots. Greenways serves as an important bridge between the historical and descriptive emphasis on greenways provided by Charles Little’s GreenwuysforAmerica ( 1990) and the ecological basis for greenways found in Dan Smith and Paul Hellmund’s Ecology of Greenways ( 1993). Flink and Searns integrate both works by tiering from Little’s definitions of greenways, and by integrating Smith and Hellmund’s work on ecological values into the greenway development process. This new book transcends these foundation works through its distinct practical approach. The book’s content itself is like a watershed: it assimilates many sidestreams of hard-tofind information and processes, creating a larger body of ability. As a result, concerned citizens, land use planners, and government officials alike can feel more forewarned, confident, and prepared as they undertake the complex task of organizing a greenway project. The structure of the book also has strong precedence. Greenways resembles another important comprehensive land conservation book: Saving the Countryside: A Guide to Rural Conservation (Strokes et al., 1989). They are similar in that they both provide structured procedures for land conservation’s complex issues such as creating systems for site selection, clarifying applicable laws and regulations, weighing funding strategies for land acquisition, and determining appropriate managing entities. Both include numerous case studies that demonstrate the applicability of the advice being given in the text. Both also include helpful sidebars that relate the chapter’s subject to a case study or provide further information. The result is that these books should be read twice: once for the primary text and once for the sidebars that usually impart advice to greenway organizers regarding the need for tenacity and patience. The format is easy-to-browse, with readily available sources for deeper investigation. I would expect both books to be well thumbed and found in prominent

Book reviews /Landscape and Urban Planning 33 (1995) 477-480


places on the shelves of planners, designers, and educators across the country. The writing style of the greenways guide is strong and maintains interest. The editor and authors follow an effective format of sparking the readers’ interests by first asking questions requiring consideration; for example in the case of determining architectural or engineering significance of elements within a greenway: “What is the . . . significance of man-made structures . . . found within the landscape? Are the buildings unique to your community?” (pp. 171-172). Questions are then followed by techniques for addressing the issue at hand, and then by examples demonstrating the techniques. While curiosity is animated and then assuaged by the clear writing style, a desire to update design language at times is not satisfied. For example, the references to ‘plant materials’ (p. 268) are ripe for updating to ‘plants,’ particularly with the inclusion of sections throughout the book on respecting natural processes. We should reflect this respect by removing the humancentered and implicitly inert status of ‘materials’ from plants. One aspect of this book that catapults it ahead of past park design guides is its attention in the text to sustainable design and landscape ecology. The former is exemplified in sections on trail design. Use of recycled products in trail construction is included in the text and on a comparative chart on advantages and disadvantages of trail surface materials. This establishes a consistency between the conservation goals of greenway development and the small-scale techniques used to construct it. Using recycled materials also provide an additional interpretive layer for users and makes the route more interesting. These forward-thinking approaches should consistently appear in the book’s many charts and graphics to emphasize their promise. For example, illustrations of typical trail surfaces should include a representative drawing of recycled sidewalk materials, or shredded tires, or local inert tailings. Drawings tend to be referenced more by readers than text, and opportunities to improve the sustainability of designs should not be underemphasized. Applying principles of landscape ecology to practical greenway development is another strength and is featured in Chapter 7, Promoting the natural values of the land. Here, suggestions are made such as minimizing fragmentation of wildlife habitat, determining nat-

ural vegetation patterns and designing in accordance with their structure and function, and utilizing native plants in revegetation projects. These are important goals that encourage knitting together a semblance of habitat in areas that have been shattered by the fragmenting impact of development. However, the book misses an opportunity to integrate landscape ecology with traditional design concerns such as user needs, land use, and design form in several instances, reflecting that principles of landscape ecology are more additive rather than integrative in this book. For example, in the section on trail design, the following recommendations were made: “To provide your trail with a unique personality, examine the six types of layout configurations provided on the following pages and select one (or more) that best suits the conditions of your greenway” (p. 195). The advantages and disadvantages of the path configurations are described in terms of walking distances, variety, amount of land required, dispersal of users, etc. Other considerations eloquently summarized in Chapter 7 on minimizing disruption of wildlife movement and habitat are not to be found either here or in the next section that describes positioning trails within the greenway corridor, leading the reader to wonder: which configurations are least disruptive to wildlife movement? How can I minimize impact through trail design? Are wildlife and human interests mutually exclusive or not? These two chapters should be more consistently related, especially as many users will read individual chapters of this book when needed, rather than reading from cover-to-cover. Further, the case for restoring native vegetation and creating ‘place responsiveness’ is weakened by including a list of plants for use in fencing and screening (p. 269). This generic list features plants ranging from tropical fuchsia plants to temperate hemlocks, their attributes (formal, glossy, weedy, etc.), speed and height of growth, and sun preferences. Not included, however, is a description of the plants’ native habitat, their propensity to spread into other habitats, or the appropriateness of introducing exotics into greenways. This list succumbs to the temptation described on p. 134: “Avoid the temptation to plant exotic species because they have beneficial qualities such as erosion control or are a high-quality food source”. A one-sizefits-all approach to selecting plants is a common lapse in generic design books, but should not appear in one with guidelines as stated in Chapter 7.


Book reviews /Landscape

and Urban Planning 33 (1995) 477-480

The most important contribution of Flink and Seams’ work is to connect, just as the greenways themselves do, previously isolated patches and to unite them into a greater whole. In the authors’ case, they are connecting hundreds of life experiences from past greenway organizers, who, perhaps by being sprinkled across the country, were not aware of the cumulative impact of their work. The benefits of these experiences undoubtedly will be transferred through this book to countless numbers of individuals who will continue to move the greenway concept further into an unignorable movement. This guide, through its case studies and well-honed advice, inspires increasing confidence that greenways, and the people devoted to their well-being, are coalescing to become an ever-strengthening, important, and valued matrix in land use planning.

JOAN HIRSCHMAN, Department of Landscape Architecture California State Polytechnic University Pomona, CA USA

Little, CharlesE., 1990. Greenways for America. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD. Smith, Daniel S. and Hellmund, Paul Cawood (Editors), 1993. Ecology of Greenways. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN. Stokes, Samuel N. et al., 1989. Saving America’s Countryside: A Guide to Rural Conservation. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

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