creating a native seed bank for urban restoration in the los angeles basin

Practicum Project | 2000

Creating a native seed bank for urban restoration in the Los Angeles Basin

Home to more than ten million people, the Los Angeles metropolitan area accommodates one of the largest urban populations in the world. The vast majority of its landscape has been converted to freeways, skyscrapers, and strip malls, resulting in the loss of native vegetation and wildlife which provide valuable ecosystem services that maintain the landscape that Angelenos inhabit. This extensive urbanization has also led to increased temperatures as a result of the urban heat island effect, a phenomenon where cities experience warmer climate conditions than adjacent rural areas due to increased hardscape and lack of vegetation. Urban heat islands can have serious consequences for human health, including respiratory difficulties, heat related illnesses like heat stroke, and even death.

Urbanization has also made green space increasingly inaccessible to populations occupying dense urban areas, creating socioeconomic inequity across communities while severely obstructing wildlife and the role it plays within this ecosystem.

Our client Seed LA envisions a greener future for Los Angeles that addresses these pressing issues. In collaboration with various environmental agencies, we hope to assist in planning for a seed bank of locally-sourced, native seeds that can be used to vegetate urban green spaces, revegetate areas of ecological significance like the Los Angeles River, and ultimately create a more vibrant and resilient Los Angeles landscape. Our project will focus on identifying existing native plant populations in Los Angeles and potential locations to reintroduce native biodiversity through urban green space. In particular, we will:

  • Use GIS and statistical analysis to predict climate induced impacts
  • Determine suitable locations to re-establish native plant populations in the city
  • Provide resilient habitat that can withstand hot, dry climate conditions and accommodate wildlife
  • Provide Los Angeles with a stock of biologically diverse native vegetation that will provide cleaner air quality and stabilize watersheds
  • Assemble a physical seed bank that provides Los Angeles with a stock of native vegetation for future generations
  • Create beautiful, accessible green space for Angelenos and Southern California wildlife
  • Provide research that that can be used in revitalizing the urban landscape

Client: SEED LA

Advisor: Dr. Andrew Kleinhesselink

Project Team: Hannah Crispi, Jaclyn Ha, Emma Lauterbach, Maddie McKee, Amir Patel, Michelle Pham, and Keely Watland