In recognition of the importance of public parks, trees, and garden landscaping in urban design, over half the developed land in Dallas is to be kept as green space. From landscape enhancement projects to master plans for an urban forest, the city’s strategies for increasing natural areas will not only improve its aesthetic appeal, but will also protect important wildlife habitats and reduce the urban heat island effect. Together with a recent donation of 110 acres of park land, plans to restore natural areas, increase the tree canopy and add greenery to the built environment will help to maintain Dallas’s position as one of the cities with the most green space per capita in the country.
Adding Green Spaces to the Built Environment
Urban landscapes play an important role in the health and wellbeing of a city’s residents, and cultivated lawns and landscaped gardens can be maintained in any type of terrain or climate. At the University of Texas, work has recently been completed on a long-term project to improve the appearance and appeal of the campus. In addition to the incorporation of the green spaces, lawn terraces and elm groves completed in 2015, the Campus Landscape Enhancement project has now introduced new hardscaping including wide walkways and shaded areas to sit. Almost 8,000 trees have been planted and the whole effect has added a park-like feel to the environment.
Expanding and Developing Parks
Increasing the amount of green space is a priority in a densely populated city like Dallas. Although the Trust for Public Land claims that over 70% of Dallas residents are within easy walking distance of a park, the realization of several new park projects could improve access to green spaces even further. One of the parks currently under development is Southern Gateway Park which is due to open before the end of 2023. As well as providing recreational facilities including a stage, pavilion and children’s playground, it is hoped that the investment in pedestrian walkways and other infrastructure will help to reconnect communities.
Creating an Urban Forest
The addition of more trees to a city brings considerable environmental benefits. Trees absorb pollution, manage stormwater runoff, and during hot and humid summers, add shade, and help to reduce the temperature. Continuing developments in the city are adding to the creation of an urban heat island where high levels of human activity can cause temperatures to rise. Mitigation of this effect is one of the benefits of planting trees that the city’s first Urban Forest Master Plan hopes to achieve. The plan created by Texas Trees Foundation aims to increase the city’s tree canopy by 5% within the next twenty years. While helping them to grow, the plan also sets out recommendations to maintain the existing trees in order to create a resilient urban forest in Dallas.
With a number of ambitious projects for the expansion of parks and urban forests, Dallas is working hard to improve access to green space for its residents, while at the same time mitigating the effects of continued development in a thriving city.