Landscape engineering

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Landscape engineering is the application of mathematics and science to shape land and waterscapes. It can also be described as green engineering, but the design professionals best known for landscape engineering are landscape architects. Landscape engineering is the interdisciplinary application of engineering and other applied sciences to the design and creation of anthropogenic landscapes. It differs from, but embraces traditional reclamation. It includes scientific disciplines: Agronomy, Botany, Ecology, Forestry, Geology, Geochemistry, Hydrogeology, and Wildlife Biology. It also draws upon applied sciences: Agricultural & Horticultural Sciences, Engineering Geomorphology, landscape architecture, and Mining, Geotechnical, and Civil, Agricultural & Irrigation Engineering.

Landscape engineering builds on the engineering strengths of declaring goals, determining initial conditions, iteratively designing, predicting performance based on knowledge of the design, monitoring performance, and adjusting designs to meet the declared goals. It builds on the strengths and history of reclamation practice. Its distinguishing feature is the marriage of landforms, substrates, and vegetation throughout all phases of design and construction, which previously have been kept as separate disciplines.

Though landscape engineering embodies all elements of traditional engineering (planning, investigation, design, construction, operation, assessment, research, management, and training), it is focused on three main areas. The first is closure planning – which includes goal setting and design of the landscape as a whole. The second division is landscape design more focused on the design of individual landforms to reliably meet the goals as set out in the closure planning process. Landscape performance assessment is critical to both of these, and is also important for estimating liability and levels of financial assurance. The iterative process of planning, design, and performance assessment by a multidisciplinary team is the basis of landscape engineering.

Source: McKenna, G.T., 2002. Sustainable mine reclamation and landscape engineering. PhD Thesis, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada 661p.

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