Green, Heal and Restore the Earth: Ian McHarg’s “Design with Nature” vision has influenced implementation of British Columbia’s Water Sustainability Action Plan

Note to Reader:

Released in February 2004, the Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia provides a partnership umbrella for aligning efforts and implementing on-the-ground initiatives in the local government setting. Throughout 2014, the Partnership for Water Sustainability is celebrating 10 years of successful Action Plan program implementation. For the past decade, Design with Nature has been an integral and essential element of the Action Plan branding.

To view the video, visit:

To view the video, visit:

ADAPT TO A CHANGING CLIMATE: “Design with Nature” to ensure resiliency

Published in 1969, the seminal book Design with Nature by Ian McHarg (1920-2001) is widely considered one of the most important and influential works of its kind. His premise is simple: “that the shaping of land for human use ought to be based on an understanding of natural process.”

The ecological planning method developed by Ian McHarg to apply this theory is used throughout the world. He and Roger Tomlinson (1933-2014) are known as the “fathers of GIS”. In the Preface to the 1992 edition, Ian McHarg concluded with the following statement:

“So, I commend Design with Nature to your sympathetic consideration. The title contains a gradient of meaning. It can be interpreted as simply descriptive of a planning method, deferential to places and peoples, it can invoke the Grand Design, it can emphasize the conjunction with and, finally it can be read as an imperative. DESIGN WITH NATURE!”

1Kim Stephens_July2014_120p“We find that people intuitively understand what designing with nature means,” states Kim Stephens, Partnership Executive Director. “It is non-threatening. Minds open. The concept provides a starting point for having conversations about living water smart, building greener communities and adapting to a changing climate. Perhaps this is what Ian McHarg had in mind when he wrote about the ‘gradient of meaning’. Suffice to say, the phrase Design with Nature works, it really does.”

To Learn More:

“For me, the great dream would be…..that all of us address ourself to greening, healing and restoring the earth,” stated Ian McHarg in his acceptance speech when he received the President’s Award at the 1997 Esri User Conference. To watch the 15-minute video, click either on the image above or on this link:

To download a copy of a document posted previously on the website, click on “Design with Nature” philosophy guides Water Sustainability Action Plan for British Columbia

Design with Nature philosophy guides Action Plan_March2010_cover


Leave a Reply