By Shannon Dortch

New signs cropped up around Cornell Botanic Gardens’ natural areas and Nevin Welcome Center in summer 2018—markers for sites on Cornell University’s Sustainable Landscapes Trail.

Launched in 2017, the trail highlights sustainable design and green infrastructure across the Cornell campus. It promotes open spaces, natural areas, and landscapes with unique sustainability features that enhance and promote healthy ecosystems.

Cornell Botanic Gardens has long played a prominent role in campus sustainability efforts and is home to seven of the sixteen sites on this trail.

Sustainable landscapes and the ways in which they provide environmental benefits are often invisible to the public.  The trail aims to educate the Cornell community about the many benefits humans gain from the natural environment and from properly functioning ecosystems—known as “ecosystem services. Ecosystem services support our survival and quality of life, either directly or indirectly. They include reducing storm water runoff, improving water and air quality, and conserving energy. The features of the trail also serve as part of the “living laboratory campus,” meaning that each site can be used for research and education.

“Almost everything we do at botanic gardens is sustainable landscape, one way or another,” said Todd Bittner, director of natural areas.  “Our mission to conserve biodiversity aligned perfectly with purpose of this trail. It allows us to share our sustainability efforts, as well as the challenges that follow, and to advocate for sustainable practices.”

Cornell Botanic Gardens’ sites that are on the Sustainable Landscape Trail include: Climate Change Garden, Bioswale Garden, Nevin Center Green Roof, Mundy Wildflower Garden Deer Impact Research and Management, Integrated Pest Management, Biodiversity in Natural Areas, and our Native Lawn located next to the Mundy Wildflower Garden.