A GIS-based Decision Support System for Neighbourhood Greening
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A prototype decision support tool is described which provides options for the management of existing green spaces and for the establishment of new green space in suburban neighbourhoods. Suggested neighbourhood greening techniques include the naturalization of existing parks and increased foliage along streets and rights of way. The naturalization approach involves less frequent cutting in grassy fields, the introduction of native species, and the cessation of pesticide and herbicide applications. Increased plantings along streets and boulevards would improve the aesthetics of neighbourhoods, and may provide some relief from climatic extremes and urban heat island effects. The creation of new green space in already-built suburban neighbourhoods provides a longer term challenge to neighbourhood planners. Potential strategies include the introduction of small pocket parks and community gardens in vacant lots and school yards. Modelled outcomes from such neighbourhood greening strategies could be used in public meetings both to incorporate attitudes of the impacted community and to demonstrate benefits to a wider community. In particular, strategies should take into account issues of safety and perceived safety that commonly arise with the greater use of naturalization in green space management. The developed prototype decision support tool has been coded as an ArcView GIS extension and provides the opportunity to model and evaluate future scenarios better aligned to principles of sustainable community development. Three applications of this tool are discussed to illustrate some of the benefits of undertaking a range of neighbourhood greening strategies.