Landscape Architecture + Environmental Planning

Environmental Planning

Two-Year Master of Landscape Architecture

The Master of Landscape Architecture with an emphasis in environmental planning is a two-year program for students with a strong background in the environmental sciences or management, or undergraduate degrees in landscape architecture, urban studies, planning, or design. The degree program curriculum requires 55 units.

Program Description

Environmental planning is the application of natural and social science to promote environmentally sound development and management of natural resources. It is a broad field, bridging the disciplines of geology, soils, hydrology, plant and wildlife ecology, law, and public policy. Many environmental planners are also specialists in these fields; what distinguishes them as planners is that they bring analytical, managerial, and policy-making skills to bear on decisions about the appropriate use of land and natural resources.

Underlying the process is the philosophy that better land-use decisions will result if the decision makers are better informed about the environmental effects of alternative actions. Thus, the environmental planner pulls information together from various disciplines and presents it in a form comprehensible to decision makers. This involves working closely with specialists in interactions that draw upon the planner’s background in these specializations.

The role of environmental planners has increased with mandates for environmental impact assessment at local, state, federal, and international levels. In these studies, the planner plays a pivotal role: providing a bridge between specialists and the decision makers. Similarly, restoration of degraded land and streams, an area of increasing interest, requires the skills of the environmental planner to ensure that the planning and design of restoration projects take ecological processes and constraints into account.

At the regional planning scale, environmental planners analyze the landscape to identify constraints on land use. From these analyses, guidelines and regulations are developed to reduce losses from landslides, earthquakes, floods, forest fires, and other natural hazards. Other goals are to maintain clean streams and groundwater supplies, to prevent erosion of soil or loss of agricultural lands to development, to maintain wildlife habitats, to retain significant scenic resources, and to enhance recreational resources.

At the site planning scale, environmental planners are called upon to create or review specific development proposals, acting as intermediaries between natural scientists and planning agencies. In this role, the traditional skills of the landscape architect in physical planning and site design are used to inspire more creative and ecologically informed plans and to help mitigate the detrimental effects of development.

Environmental planners work in a variety of professional settings, including the U.S. Forest Service, Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, state and regional agencies responsible for management of natural resources and protection of sensitive areas (e.g., the coastal zone). Some are employed in firms that undertake large-scale analyses and plans for public agencies, and the design of privately financed development projects. Others work with international development agencies or nongovernmental organizations concerned with preservation of environmental values.

Course Requirements

Core (27 units)

  • LD ARCH 134A (3) Introduction to Drawing for Landscape Architects
  • LD ARCH 200A (5) Fundamentals of Landscape Design
  • LD ARCH 254 (1) Topics in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning
  • LD ARCH 205 (5) Environmental Planning Studio
  • LD ARCH C237/CY PLAN C257 (3) Process of Environmental Planning
  • LD ARCH 252B (3) Thesis/Professional Project Research Seminar
  • LD ARCH 206 (5) Thesis/Professional Project Studio

Breadth (13 units)

Four courses, one in each field:

  • Field 1—Natural Factors (LD ARCH 220, LD ARCH 222, LD ARCH 224, LD ARCH 225)
  • Field 2—Social Factors (LD ARCH 140 or equivalent)
  • Field 3—Methods (LD ARCH 221)
  • Field 4—Geographic Information Systems (LD ARCH C188)

Electives (13 units)

Total: 55 units