By Cheryl Green, Colleen Husted, and Pete LaHaie
(May 2012)

Parklands can be beautiful landscapes as well as havens for outdoor enthusiasts and nature devotees. Well-designed parklands involve a creative combination of influences from nature and the human hand, the latter of which can be masked integrating prairies, wetlands, grasslands and woodland areas into park landscapes. Such parks establish a unique and welcoming environment for a wide range of vegetation while providing habitat for wildlife and native plants.

While parklands provide opportunities for human recreation, other species need to thrive in these areas, too. With so much human development, parklands in cities and suburbs provide a vital refuge for plant and animal communities from the impacts of urbanization and human “progress” that characterizes our current world. As the result of urban and suburban development, many plants and animals have become endangered or threatened, and parklands can serve as a home for these species to prevent their local extinction. Parklands also provide a means of educating members of the community about conservation and sustainability.

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Banner Photo Credit: Busse Woods, an Illinois Nature Preserve located within the larger parkland of Ned Brown Forest Preserve in Cook County, a large-scale green space that borders Schaumburg, Rolling Meadows, Elk Grove Village, and Arlington Heights (M. Bryson, Sept. 2011)