At a Glance

An urban ecology provides the framework for a livable future that is not just based on sustainability, but on regeneration –the process of integrating living systems with human aspirations.

Project Description

Atlanta is often called "the city in a forest" based on its unique development patterns and the uncommon abundance of tree canopy within city limits. Aware of this and other natural resources in Atlanta, and contemplating dramatic population growth forecasted for the coming years, the city developed Atlanta City Design, an inclusive effort to envision Atlanta in the next 20+ years.

The vision called for a plan that is "For People, For Nature, and For People in Nature." In support of this, Biohabitats led an interdisciplinary team working with the Department of City Planning to develop Atlanta City Design: NATURE. Establishing the natural context for Atlanta's growth and development, the project helped determine what aspects of nature in Atlanta should be preserved, restored, and accentuated by the public realm, and chart the course for a citywide green network that would benefit all city residents.

Atlanta City Design: NATURE, which emphasize equity and inclusiveness, also aims to generate stewardship for the natural environment and maximize the potential to transform and integrate vacant and abandoned properties into the green network. The project team examined the City's natural environs, including rivers and creeks, forest and tree canopy, ridges and watersheds, public and private green spaces, trails and byways including the Atlanta Beltline, and other defining features of Atlanta. Informed by community input and data analysis, the team recommended opportunities, strategies and policies to restore ecosystems and habitat, generate future connected green and blue spaces, and promote development aligned with those features and systems.

In reestablishing and fully integrating ecological processes into the heart of the city's cultural and economic fabric, the Atlanta City Design: NATURE helps put Atlanta on a path to becoming a more resilient, vibrant, and healthy city. As a complementary effort, Biohabitats worked with the city on revisions to their citywide tree ordinance so that the implementation aligns with the economic goals of the city as well as the tree preservation, conservation and canopy enhancement strategies generated in Atlanta City Design: NATURE.



Southeast Atlantic

Physiographic Province



Upper Chattahoochee

Expertise Areas

Climate Change, Community, Conservation, Ecological Restoration, Infrastructure, Urban Ecology, Water


City of Atlanta, Department of Planning and Community Development


Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Project Team
  • PPD
  • PEQ
  • RVi
  • Alta
  • American Forests
  • Conservation Fund
  • Neil Norton