Ecological Landscapes for Environmental Sustainability

Date: 24th January 2023
Author: Rahul Kadri

Strategies for Designing Delightful and Sustainable Open Spaces

As our planet becomes increasingly urbanized and industrialized, the fate of natural landscapes is at risk. Unfortunately, this has led to what many experts refer to as an ‘ecological crisis,’ characterized by three major themes. The rapid growth of human populations and their associated economic activity has put significant pressure on natural resources.

This, in turn, has led to the depletion of both renewable and non-renewable resources. Ecosystems and biodiversities have suffered extensive and intensive damage due to unchecked human activity. This damage is often irreversible and has significant implications for the sustainability of our planet.

The root of these environmental challenges is the inadequate integration of ecological concerns into planning. Over the last few decades, most cities have been developed without considering the impact on the environment. Moving forward, it's crucial to address these issues by integrating ecological concerns into planning and development, ensuring the preservation of natural landscapes and biodiversity for future generations. Designers and design critics, today are increasingly highlighting the importance of an ecological approach to designing cities and their landscapes.

Here are six strategies for designing ecologically sustainable landscapes:

1. Creating Opportunities to Experience Nature

At the heart of this approach is the idea of reconnecting people with nature. One way to achieve this is by creating opportunities for urban dwellers to experience nature through landscape design and open spaces – spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also ecologically fulfilling. Such spaces can offer a much-needed respite from the concrete jungle by encouraging people to spend time in nature.

2. Less is More

Ecological landscape design emphasises minimising dependence on natural resources like soil, water, energy, and fertilizers. By analyzing existing site conditions such as soil, water, flora & fauna, and natural processes, designers can create sustainable landscapes that preserve the original terrain and biodiversity of the area.
Unfortunately, current land development practices prioritise large-scale, mechanised development over nature-friendly, locally-sourced ones, leading to the destruction of natural terrain and biodiversity due to ignorance or negligence. However, there are opportunities to conserve and restore lands by preserving water resources and existing vegetation, and maintaining or improving existing geology.

3. Addressing Environmental & Land Degradation

Conservation can take place in both big and small ways, such as transplanting non-invasive vegetation instead of cutting it, using diverse native plantations, and preserving natural terrain and water bodies. By taking these proactive steps, we can address environmental and land degradation and create sustainable designs that respect and conserve the natural habitats of the area.

4. Reducing Biodiversity Loss

Reducing biodiversity loss is another critical aspect of ecological landscape design. Unfortunately, human activity has caused a significant decline in biodiversity, with factors such as climate change, pollution, habitat destruction, invasive species, and overexploitation of natural resources all contributing to the problem. Biodiversity loss has far-reaching consequences for the environment and people, affecting economic and health outcomes. Ecological landscape design can play a crucial role in reducing biodiversity loss by preserving habitats, promoting sustainable practices, and minimizing the impact of human activity on the environment.

5. Creating Wilderness

As human population growth and development continue to threaten wilderness areas, creating wilderness through landscape design can help reduce biodiversity loss and enhance the natural character of open spaces. Creating wilderness involves more than just adding greenery – it's about creating habitats for smaller fauna like birds, bees, insects, and butterflies, with food and native plants.

6. Creating Resilient Landscapes

Resilience, which refers to the ability to adapt to changing conditions and recover functionality after disruption, is another critical concept in ecological landscape design. With the increasing impact of climate change, droughts, rising temperatures, floods, and pests and diseases are already affecting landscapes worldwide. Resilient design focuses on practical, realistic solutions that can be implemented incrementally over time. Achieving resilience requires a multifaceted approach that involves taking small, feasible steps in the short term and building from there.
At IMK Architects, our approach to landscape design stems from these strategies –, as we strive to create delightful and sustainable open spaces. Ultimately, an ecological approach to design is about finding a balance between urban development and ecological preservation. By prioritizing the health of our planet and its ecosystems, we can create a more sustainable future for all.

“In parts of the world dominated by humans, landscape design can have significant and positive environmental effects” (Helfand et al., 2006).


1.Oikos – For Ecological services, Pune (