NINA-MARIE LISTER

Ryerson University, Toronto.

Nina-Marie Lister is Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor in the School of Urban + Regional Planning at Ryerson University in Toronto. From 2010-2014, she was Visiting Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture + Urban Planning at Harvard University, Graduate School of Design. A Registered Professional Planner (MCIP, RPP) trained in ecology, environmental science and landscape planning, she is the founding principal of PLANDFORM, a creative studio practice working at the nexus of landscape, ecology, and urbanism. Prof. Lister’s research, teaching and practice centre on the confluence of landscape infrastructure and ecological processes within contemporary metropolitan regions, with a particular focus on resilience and adaptive systems design. At Ryerson University, Lister founded and directs the Ecological Design Lab, a collaborative innovation incubator for ecological design research and practice. She is a member of the Ryerson Urban Water Centre where she contributes work on flood-friendly design through green and blue infrastructure for resilience. Her current research is funded by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant and a Graham Foundation publication grant. She is co-editor of Projective Ecologies (with Chris Reed, Harvard and ACTAR Press, 2014) and The Ecosystem Approach: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Managing for Sustainability (with David Waltner-Toews and the late James Kay, Columbia University Press, 2008), and author of more than 40 professional practice and scholarly publications. These include notable contributions to Design With Nature Now (Lincoln Land Institute 2019), Nature & Cities: The Ecological Imperative in Urban Planning & Design (Lincoln 2016), Is Landscape…Essays on the Identity of Landscape (Routledge 2016), Ecological Urbanism (Harvard GSD with Lars Müller Publishers 2010), and Large Parks (Princeton Architectural Press 2008, winner of the J.B. Jackson Book Prize). She was Guest Editor of the Journal of Ecological Restoration for a special issue on landscape infrastructure, and is a contributor to Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment to a special issue on climate change for the 100th anniversary of the Ecological Society of America. Her work has also been widely featured in international exhibitions, including the 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale in which Lister is a collaborator on Canada’s entry entitled EXTRACTION—a critical examination of Canada’s role as a global resource empire, featuring an installation, film and book exploring the ecologies and territories of resource extraction (curated by Pierre Bélanger). Locally, Lister is curator and director of a public exhibition on wildlife, infrastructure and urbanism: XING - (re) connecting landscapes now on permanent exhibit at the Toronto Zoo. In recognition of her international leadership in ecological design, Lister was awarded Honourary Membership in the American Society of Landscape Architects. She was recently named an an “Inspired Educator” by the Canadian Green Building Council’s excellence and leadership awards, and in 2017, Lister was nominated among Planetizen’s Most Influential Urbanists.

Presentation

Landscapes of Resilience — Biophilic Design for Nature-Based Solutions. 

Today’s planners, urban or otherwise, engage with the cumulative challenges of the modern city and the built environment that contains it. This world is one of infrastructure—human-designed networks of roads, rails, bridges, pipelines and sewers. These hard-surface “grey" infrastructures, traditionally designed by civil-engineers and managed by planners have become synonymous with progress in urbanising regions. For the first time in human history, more than half the world’s population lives in cities, and in this Age of the Anthropocene, the urbanising landscape is increasingly the only landscape our children will ever know. With this change, we risk losing sight of the hinterlands— the rural and wild landscapes that provide our food, water, resources as well as our spiritual and cultural nourishment. As is becoming increasingly apparent, it is the ecological functions of nature, and the landscape itself, that ultimately sustains us. More than just the essential ecosystem services provided by living landscapes, our urbanizing planet also needs the vital benefits of biophilia — the "nature fix” — that is increasingly understood to be critical to human physical, mental, social and cultural wellness. For this reason, it is time to re-evaluate, re-define, and re-affirm that landscape itself is the infrastructure of resilience, and as such, it is our primary investment in a healthy future. Landscape is the essential green and blue infrastructure, offering nature-based solutions for cultural and ecological resilience to support sustainable human settlement under the complex and uncertain conditions of climate change that define the Anthropocene. In this way, the repositioning of landscape as critical infrastructure offers new agency for a healthy, resilient future through biophilic design. 

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