Landscape Architect Looks For Climate Change Answers

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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: And you have designed a whole sort of ecosystem around status at Staten Island. So living breakwaters, and you’ve kindly provided us some pictures. So I’m going to ask you to walk us through what looks like a really interesting project. So, what is it you you’ve designed reef streets to be submerged? Tell us about this first picture.

KATE ORFF, LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Right. Well, you know, as your viewers probably will remember, the New York Region, New Jersey region was hit incredibly hard by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. And so, this project Living Breakwaters was a kind of an investment in innovative infrastructure, how can we just not build back as we were before, but how can we look to the future and anticipate the landscapes that we need for the whole, you know, litany of risks that we’ll be facing? So the Living Breakwaters project, which is in Raritan Bay, and just off the shore of Tottenville Staten Island is essentially a half mile linear necklace of breakwaters, near shore breakwaters that are constructed from a combination of concrete and ecological units. And what they do is they calm the water they, they sort of rebuild on shore beaches, they reduce erosion. And they kind of bring back that protective layered ecosystem of reefs and beaches that once really characterize the coastal protection of our region. But more than just that physical project, though, the Breakwaters project is also an ecological pilot of reviving the historic ecosystems that once characterized our region, robust fish, and mosaic of fish habitat and mosaic of underwater habitat and oyster reefs that really kind of helped to clean and calm the water here. And it’s also a social project or a community building project, if you will, that involves citizen science, that involves sort of oyster education, science based education. So, it’s really a combination of, you know, physical risk reduction in the breakwaters, but really thinking about rebuilding this ecosystem that we’ve lost and integrating people into the process. And so, it’s really trying to look in a forward looking and holistic way about what do we need to be doing to adapt to our changing climate in the next decades?

About This Episode EXPAND

Alok Sharma; Kate Orff; Cal Newport; Van Jones