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Ecologies of Justice 

Forested Fauna

Landscape Foundation Studio III | 2021
Instructors: Michael Luegering and Ghazal Jafari

*Work on this project was done in conjunction with Madeline Smith.

All drawings are my own unless marked otherwise. 

Hydrologic Influences on the James River

This project began with the discovery of the Cobbs Creek Reservoir project that will use the natural waterflow of the James to provide water for Henrico County. The immediate floodplain of the James will see a large impact from this new dam, which will compound the strained conditions of floodplain ecosystems along the river that already experience higher levels of erosion and soil nutrient depletion due to the prevalence of non-sustainable agricultural practices. Our premise is to encourage floodplain restoration by establishing resilient floodplain forest communities within the immediate floodplain of the James that are more adapted to longer cycles of drought, that improve water retention capabilities and replenish nutrients in the soil while preventing soil compaction and erosion during floods.


Site Suitability and Selection

Beginning sites of operation would ideally include existing wetland but be mostly pasture.


Physical Flow Tests

Model tests were conducted to explore potential topographical forms and how they respond to water flow.

Soil Drainage Map

A study of drainage and soil types was done to investigate erodibility on the floodplain and reframe the river as a dynamic entity.


A. Piedmont-Central Appalachian Silver Maple Floodplain Forest Plant Species

B. Silver Maple Alluvial Forest Expansion 

D. Densities of Hunting and Husbandry

C. Native and Colonial Conceptions of Land

To adapt to potential changes in flooding and drought cycles due to the new dam, we propose the introduction of silvopastures consisting of plants such as silver maple, paw paw, box-elder, Canadian wood nettle, and Virginia rye. Silvopastures are used to address the needs of existing cattle while ameliorating issues of soil stabilization and plant diversity. 

A. Drawing by Madeline S. and Nita W.
B. Drawing by Madeline S. 
C. Drawing by Madeline S. and Nita W.


Stages of Pasture Transition and Wetland Implementation

The introduction of wetland ecosystems on the James River floodplain will reduce the worsening effects of erosion and sediment loss seen through the projected effects of a new hydrologic dam. Given the prevalence of cattle and farm animal pasturelands across the floodplain, a silvopasture system designed alongside establishment of wetland areas will help mitigate the strain on the land. While learning from native stewardship of the land, this inquiry into wetland-silvopasture hybrid systems calls for the reallocation of access to lands in the floodplain for the Monacan indigenous community. Access to such lands will be achieved through land-use agreements and cultivation of positive, adaptive relationships in an increased state of urgency. 


Distributed Land Use on the James Floodplain

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