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What is Urban Ecosystem Restorations?

Urban Ecosystem Restorations, Inc. (UER) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit urban land trust, formed to work with landowners across the greater Washington, D.C. area to preserve or develop green spaces that serve multiple, integrated ecosystem functions — also known as eco-functioning spaces (EFS)*  — and then to protect these spaces, and their functions, over time.

Vision and Mission

UER’s vision is to work with landowners who are planning for new construction projects, rehabilitation projects, or landscape retrofits, or who may be trying to preserve natural areas of their sites, to create and protect EFS on their lands.  UER will also consider acquiring lands that provide ecosystem functions to adjacent lands — where the owners of the adjacent lands support such efforts.

Because of high demand for land in the cities and suburbs of the Washington, D.C. area, UER believes it is essential to restore and protect numerous EFS of varying sizes across private real estate developments and neighborhoods in the region.  UER envisions protecting even very small EFS in the urban core, particularly where there is a possibility of aggregating their function with nearby EFS or consolidating them with larger spaces in the future.

UER seeks to integrate each EFS into the design of the surrounding built environment, so that buildings and EFS interact with and support each other.  In each case, UER-assisted EFS will serve multiple environmental needs simultaneously, using landscape designs, plant selections, and the latest environmental science to clean the air, reduce heat island effects, provide habitat for birds and pollinators, and retain and filter rainwater (all at the same time), while facilitating the downsizing or elimination of costly building systems.

Teaching people about the many ways these EFS benefit their lives, how to enjoy and respect these spaces for long-term individual and community benefit, and building STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills through an understanding of the science that makes EFS work are all also part of UER’s role.

UER’s mission is to support the development of these EFS, design them to enhance value, protect them over time, engage site users and local communities in their care and appreciation, and ultimately, connect them into protected greenways that promote regional ecological and public health benefits.

*What are eco-functioning spaces? 

Eco-functioning spaces (EFS) are areas that perform the same ecological functions that occur within normal, undisturbed ecosystems and that provide some of the basic necessities for human survival, such as: water retention/filtration (clean and recharge our water), greenhouse gas sequestration and air filtration (clean our air), decomposition/composting (reduce waste streams), the provision of native habitats that support naturally-occurring food webs (promote food production and allow for recovery of biodiversity), and land and water temperature modulation that enables the growth of various native plant and animal communities (control temperature extremes).