Authors: Joshua Lewis*, Tulane University
Topics: Natural Resources, Coastal and Marine, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Green Infrastructure, resilience, urban ecology, restoration
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
Planners, decision-makers, and scientists have pursued a wide variety of green infrastructure initiatives in Louisiana over the past two decades. These initiatives range in scale from empty lots in the urban core, to landscape-scale environmental engineering in the city’s coastal periphery. This paper analyzes two contexts where green infrastructure has been pursued and contested in the region: 1) urban landscapes subject to abandonment following flooding and 2) Coastal estuaries targeted for large-scale ecological engineering. Neighborhoods subject to depopulation following Hurricane Katrina have in some cases been recast as important sources for resilience, due to their potential capacity to intercept and store stormwater. Similarly depopulated coastal areas have been re-envisioned by planners as areas for engineering new landforms designed to enhance flood protection and buffer storm surge impacts. Green infrastructure initiatives connect with disputes over knowledge, race, and risk emerging as projects move toward implementation. Concepts like ‘resilience’ and ‘adaptation’ are commonly used by proponents of green infrastructure in the region to articulate a broad-based public constituency for green infrastructure initiatives. Residential lots converted to stormwater catchments may impact mosquito populations and other pest species. Land-building initiatives may impact fisheries and undermine traditional livelihoods. Green infrastructure initiatives, despite their perceived novelty, are nonetheless forced to confront stubborn environmental questions and social equity dilemmas. The paper describes these disjunctures as socioecological contradictions. Building from analysis of these dynamics in Louisiana, the paper argues that new democratic practices and planning paradigms are needed to balance the benefits and risks of green infrastructure initiatives.
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