idea lab 2022: haley powell
Haley Powell in the Dallas office delved into native tree use – how to widen that palette and prioritize native trees in projects for her Idea Lab 2022 topic. Her thought was to create partnerships with nurseries to increase native tree usage, asking the question of what is stopping people from using them? Perhaps if they were readily available, they would be utilized more.
Haley opens her presentation with what inspired her idea and the reason behind her personal passion. It ties back to a plant materials professor, Dave Edwards, at The University of Oklahoma. He pointed out that not everyone has the opportunity to learn about native plants, which has been confirmed for Haley throughout her career. She points out how surprising it is that many of the tree species we come across are not native, like myrtles. Native oaks, willows, maples and elms each support hundreds of species of pollinators, but non-native trees simply cannot provide the same ecosystem services that natives can.
As landscape architects, Haley points out, we are in the fortunate position to impact this. We can be on the frontlines of reversing pollinator decline and revitalizing our ecosystems by partnering with local nurseries.
Haley’s survey revealed three main hurdles as to why native tree use is not as common:
• Lack of education
• Lack of perceived desirable options
• Lack of supply
In reaching out to local nurseries Haley found one open to the idea of adding native species but learned there generally is not a demand for native tree species. She wanted to create that demand. The overarching reason native species are not utilized as they should be is a lack of education. While Haley was not awarded the chance to continue this idea, it did spark an interesting and important conversation. It was a solid reminder of the importance to educate ourselves on native flora and fauna, brushing up every so often, and continuing to keep the ecosystem a priority within design.
This blog is part of a series of TBG’s IdeaLab program – a structured fellowship that allows participants from every TBG office to explore a topic of their choosing related to TBG’s work. The process consists of tailored mentorship and guidance and firmwide support. Read more about the program here.