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Planning For Pest Readiness: Building Climate Resilience in Seattle’s Urban Forest with a Community-centric Approach

The urban forest not only plays an important role in providing ecological benefits, but it is also positively associated with public health, especially for communities of color and low-income people who already suffer from environmental injustice. In the fields of landscape architecture and urban forestry, invasive tree pests have rarely received much attention in the planning and design of the urban environment. Yet, they have the potential to weaken and kill massive amounts of trees because they can spread without the control of natural enemies. With the effects of climate change, urban trees will be under greater stress, which makes them even more vulnerable to pests.

This thesis focuses on pest resilience as an integral part of urban forest stewardship through a community-centric approach. Using GIS analyses and case studies, I identify the most ecologically and socially vulnerable communities in Seattle based on their susceptibility to pest infestation and summarize best practices for education and engagement for tree care. I further develop a community engagement framework with an emphasis on environmental justice, while providing resources and recommendations for the City of Seattle and community organizations to approach the pest issue. I also discuss the implications of this research for the urban forest departments in Seattle and for landscape designers.

Marking Risk and Response: Design Interventions to Support Citizen Science Monitoring of the Trans Mountain Pipelines

How can community-based monitoring create much needed visibility and oversight of buried tar sands pipelines that traverse human and non-human communities? The Trans Mountain Pipeline conveys up to 12.6 million gallons of diluted bitumen per day from the Athabasca tar sands of Alberta to ports in Vancouver (British Columbia) and Washington State, with construction underway on a second, paralleling pipeline that triples capacity. Meanwhile, the communities through which these pipelines invisibly pass possess little knowledge about how these pipelines are monitored or the results of that monitoring, despite an extensive history of spills. This thesis imagines a landscape architecture practice that contributes to citizen science monitoring through systems thinking, community engagement, and physical design. An adaptable design framework is proposed, where a network of citizen scientists insert site-responsive interventions into the landscape, which mark pipeline, social network, monitoring activity, and data. The result is greater legibility of physical interactions between pipeline, ecologies, and human communities. This mode of landscape architecture contributes to a growing community-based movement that challenges dominant paradigms of opaque infrastructure monitoring, whereby corporate data is shrouded within what Science and Technology Studies scholar Sara Ann Wylie calls “regimes of imperceptibility.”1

See the project issuu page.

1. Sara Ann Wylie, Fractivism: Corporate Bodies and Chemical Bonds (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018), 36.