Flavio Sciaraffia

October 21, 2019

Valdivia Wetland City: Landscape Planning Framework for the Management of the Urban Watershed and its Wetlands

Project Site: Valdivia, Chile
Sector: 
Academia
Disciplines: Landscape Design, Urban Planning, Conservation Biology, Public Policy
Collaborators: College of Art and Architecture at Universidad del Desarrollo, Fundación Cosmos, Universidad Austral de Chile, Río Cruces Wetland Center

Flavio Sciaraffia is the director at GeoAdaptive, Chile, a global consulting firm that provides advanced intelligence services to generate positive impacts in territories, communities and organizations. He is co-founder of the think-tank International Landscape Collaborative and in 2018 he received a National Fondart award for the publication of the group’s first book. Flavio is an Architect with a Masters in Urban Projects from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2011) and has a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University School of Design (2015). His projects have won awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, and the Harvard Innovation Lab.

This project proposes that the degradation of the wetlands of Valdivia has been caused by the lack of a landscape management model of the hydrological system as the main method to conserve the mosaic of wetlands. Despite the efforts to advance the understanding and protection of these ecosystems, the simple declaration of a natural protected area is not enough to generate an effective conservation framework, given that the function of these wetlands is determined by spatio-temporal processes and patterns that extend into the hydrographic basin. In other words, to consider the wetlands as the only recipients of conservation protection is not enough. It is necessary to study, visualize and communicate the spatio-temporal links between landscape processes and patterns at the watershed level, in a way that hydrological impacts can be managed, through land-use planning, to maintain these wetland system.

Urban wetland network of Valdivia. Source: Fundación Forecos
River Cruces wetland network. Soucre: Centro de Humedales Río Cruces (Wetland Center River Cruces)

The project proposes to use planning and design to articulate the scientific understanding of spatial processes and patterns at the watershed level with public policy, as a path to promote effective changes in land use. Considering the wetland functions as a reflection of the environmental conditions of the watershed, as well as its land use practices, production activities and infrastructure, is vital for the proper management and conservation of these wetlands in urban, peri-urban and rural areas of Valdivia. The main objective of this project is to generate a spatial planning framework to manage the hybrid territorial mosaic of Valdivia—understood as a region that extends its reach beyond the urban footprint—as a green-blue infrastructure that is capable of regulating hydraulic cycles and maintain the environmental parameters of water flow towards the wetlands.

The Universidad del Desarrollo (Development University), host institution for this project, is a private university founded in 1990 in Concepción, Chile, whose mission is to contribute to the development of the country, working together with the diverse sectors of society.