DOI: 10.12924/cis2016.04010039 |Publication Date: 22 August 2016
Siting Urban Agriculture as a Green Infrastructure Strategy for Land Use Planning in Austin, TX
Abstract: Green infrastructure refers to a type of land use design that mimics the natural water cycle by using the infiltration capacities of vegetation, soils, and other natural processes to mitigate stormwater runoff. As a multifunctional landscape, urban agriculture should be seen as a highly beneficial tool for urban planning not only because of its ability to function as a green stormwater management strategy, but also due to the multiple social and environmental benefits it provides. In 2012, the city of Austin adopted a major planning approach titled the “Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan” (IACP) outlining the city’s vision for future growth and land use up to 2039. The plan explicitly addresses the adoption of green infrastructure as a target for future land use with urban agriculture as a central component. Addressing this area of land use planning will require tools that can locate suitable areas within the city ideal for the development of green infrastructure. In this study, a process was developed to create a spatially explicit method of siting urban agriculture as a green infrastructure tool in hydrologically sensitive areas, or areas prone to runoff, in east Austin. The method uses geospatial software to spatially analyze open access datasets that include land use, a digital elevation model, and prime farmland soils. Through this method a spatial relationship can be made between areas of high surface runoff and where the priority placement of urban farms should be sited as a useful component of green infrastructure. Planners or geospatial analysts could use such information, along with other significant factors and community input, to aid decision makers in the placement of urban agriculture. This spatially explicit approach for siting potential urban farms, will support the integration of urban agriculture as part of the land use planning of Austin.
Keywords: GIS; green infrastructure; urban agriculture; urban planning; watershed protection