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Designed Ecologies: Breaking away from islandised conservation

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posted on 07.12.2021, 12:03 by Quartermain, Elvina

This research investigates the role of designed ecologies in the management of our ecosystems and natural resources. It argues that society has adopted a ‘protectionist’ approach toward the planning of our landscapes which in turn has had a detrimental effect on the integration between conservation and occupation. The topic of diminishing landscapes has become increasingly more apparent within recent years and has had a significant contribution toward such approach. With concerns around global warming, climate change and an increase in population, methods of counteraction toward the decline of our native species has become of fundamental importance. It is evident that ecosystems and natural resources provide a vital component toward our livability and therefore planning their resilience is crucial. Various policies have been established to constrain and restrict development in order to protect these ecologies, often within areas of national significance e.g. national parks. These implications have proven to be successful in their intention however, the focus of concern lies in the lack of integral thinking on approach to these spaces. Conservation, as it stands, is weighted significantly toward the islandisation of areas with little to no interaction or benefit to those who are expected to protect them. Looking toward theories centered around productive landscapes and the balance of untouched nature verse those that are interpreted, this research seeks understanding of compromise and compliment. It aims to define a new design approach which 1) engages with traditional aims to ensure our enjoyment of these ecologies is sustained for future generations, and 2) makes more efficient use of such asset in the way these spaces are utilised on a day to day basis. Four different approach methods have been tested and are outlined as follows in an attempt to determine a framework for integration. Though the following was formulated from a design perspective, the critique should not be constricted to simply one discipline but instigate a dialogue of discussion between architects, planners, ecologists, environmentalists, politicians and so forth. These methods should be critiqued on the success of integration between conservation and occupation in order to establish a design process which enables hybridised ecologies to coexist and function simultaneously. Successful implications of such model will use landscape architecture as a means to breathe new life back into these spaces, breaking away from islandised conservation and into a new era of dual functioning resilient outcomes.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Landscape Architecture

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Bryant, Martin; Kebbell, Sam