depave-From Parking lot to Paradise in Portland, Oregon

Depave promotes the removal of unnecessary pavement from urban areas to create community green spaces and mitigate stormwater runoff. Through community partnerships and volunteer engagement, Depave strives to overcome the social and environmental impacts of pavement with the use of action-oriented educational events, community stewardship, and advocacy to reconnect people with nature and inspire others. Depave is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon.


Livable cities where people and wildlife coexist and prosper amidst clean air, clean water, robust urban forests and thriving local agriculture.


The problem is concrete. Paved surfaces contribute to stormwater pollution, whereby rainwater carries toxic urban pollutants to local streams and rivers, greatly degrading water quality and riparian habitats. Pavement also disconnects us from our natural world.

The solution is clear. The removal of impervious pavements will reduce stormwater pollution and increase the amount of land available for habitat restoration, urban farming, trees, native vegetation, and beauty, thus providing us with greater connections to the natural world.


  • Provide information, inspiration, and technical assistance to those wishing to remove concrete and asphalt.
  • Educate the public about the benefits of pavement removal.
  • Advocate to minimize and/or reduce the amount of impervious pavement in public construction and repair projects.
  • Promote responsible and creative reuse and recycling of concrete and asphalt.
  • Provide an opportunity for greater connection with the natural world.

Can an Architect Save the Great Lakes from Asian Carp?

The Great Lakes are facing an invasive species crisis. Asian carp, a group of foreign invaders with no known predators and a voracious appetite, are threatening one of the greatest fresh water resources in the world. Elected officials and the Army Corps of Engineers have failed to act, and the situation is dire. But architect Jeanne Gang sees an opportunity to clean up the river, to improve Chicago’s water treatment system, and to revitalize a neighborhood.

Just weeks after becoming the first architect in more than a decade to win a MacArthur genius grant, Gang released a slender book outlining her vision of how to fix the Chicago River. Reverse Effect, which is the result of a yearlong collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council, advocates completely separating Lake Michigan from the Mississippi River basin and restoring the natural flow of the Chicago River. Not only would the separation prevent carp and other invasive species from traveling between the Mississippi and the Great Lakes, Gang’s proposal would use a physical barrier as a catalyst to reimagine an urban neighborhood and to introduce green infrastructure to Chicago’s South Side.

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Defining future urban sustainable development

We teamed Senior Extension Associate Keith Tidball from Cornell University up with Programme officer Oliver Hillel of the Convention of Biological Diversity to discuss some of the most important and emerging issues related to urbanisation, biodiversity conservation and governance.

The interview took place at the ICLEI Urban Nature Forum in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 13 June 2012.

DBC Pierre Celebrates the Axolotl-The Axolotl Is On Its Last Legs

The axolotl is on its last legs. The axolotl is a rare Mexican salamander (this particular one is of the albino variety). It is unique in that, unlike most salamanders, it stays in water with its fins and gills for its entire life and almost never matures fully into an amphibious salamander. They can also regrow lost limbs. They live only in a particular lake complex on the outskirts of Mexico City. However, according to National Geographic, urbanization of the city has put a strain on the salamander’s lake home and the species is now near extinction.

According to the Guardian, DBC Pierre, who won the Man Booker Prize in 2003, and a group of musicians have written a symphony for the threatened animal called “An Axolotl Odyssey.” It was performed at the London Natural History Museum on June 23. DBC Pierre explained in a piece he wrote for the Guardian why axolotls are relevant to humans right now, why a symphony is important, “they may have been around for millennia (the Aztecs worshipped them, believing them to be the secret manifestation of Xolotl, the god of lightning and death), but we have suddenly realized they have something we badly, badly want. They can regrow themselves. Science wants to know how.”

Click here to watch and hear the symphony:


Rejuvenating Mexico’s Polluted, Crime-Ridden Cities-NYT

“The problem with Villahermosa is that it was built for the car,” Mr. Alí said. “We’re trying to change that now by encouraging pedestrian culture and building or improving existing urban projects that eliminate traffic and ultimately put more eyes on the street” to discourage crime.

“We recognize that it’s time to link people back to their parks and public spaces,” Mr. Alí added.

Phase 1 of Mr. Norten’s three-phase master plan for Villahermosa opened in September. The Museo Elevado de Villahermosa, or Musevi, an elevated museum and food court, spans the traffic-jammed Paséo Tabasco highway to link the Tomás Garrido Canabal Park, in the heart of the city, with a large lagoon, the Laguna de Las Illusiones and the lake Vaso Cencalli.

An elegant construction of concrete, suspension cables and perforated white metal, Musevi also lets people walk between Villahermosa’s recently restored historic center and its commercial and residential districts. A concrete amphitheater, an orchid house with 120 species and more than 2,000 native plants were also added to the park.

But perhaps the biggest environmental turnaround for Villahermosa, in the first phase of the plan, “is a cleaned-up water supply,” said Mohammad Tareque, finance secretary for the city. “Before we installed a $2 million sewage filtration system in neighboring hillside communities, unregulated runoff left our city’s lagoons and ponds polluted and lifeless.”

Since the sewage system was put into operation in 2010, alligators, water fowl and more than a dozen species of fish have repopulated Villahermosa’s urban wetlands — particularly the lake Vaso Cencalli, where a $4.5 million dollar musical fountain, said to help aerate the murky water, was installed in November last year by WET Design, the masterminds behind the Bellagio Hotel’s fountains in Las Vegas.

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Divining Destiny in the Tehuacán Valley One Community’s Response to Mexico’s Worst Water Crisis in Decades

The Tehuacán Valley captures the tragedy and triumph of Mexico’s worst freshwater crisis in decades.

Forces of man and nature have turned this valley’s freshwater supply, once renowned throughout Mexico, into an ancient memory. Industrial and agricultural pollution have rendered many waterways dangerous, and some deadly. Rainfall is scarce, leaving soils parched and aquifers dangerously empty.

Four years ago Circle of Blue assigned Newsweek’s Latin America bureau chief Joe Contreras and World-Press winning Photojournalist Brent Stirton of Getty Images to tell Tehuacán’s story. Now we turn our attention back to the region to find out what’s happened since — particularly after the worst drought in 68 years struck Mexico last summer.

As Tehuacán confronts its water crisis, a Mexico-based non-profit called Alternativas helps communities find solutions that combine modern technology with ancestral wisdom. It’s a new paradigm for water management that offers part of the solution for Mexico’s water future.

Click on to see the video and article:

Urban River Restoration Transforms Singapore Park

One of Singapore’s most popular parks has been transformed into a dynamic natural ecosystem with the restoration of 2.7 kilometers of the Kallang River that had previously been forced into a concrete drainage channel, creating new recreation opportunities while helping protect the city from flooding.

The three-year, $60-million makeover of Bishan Park was officially completed last weekend, when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reopened the 62-hectare space to the public. (A local resident’s time-lapse video of the project captures the change from 2009 to 2012.)

Click on the link to read the full article: