Norfolk just took another step toward enhancing its natural elements

Elizabeth River Trail names new executive director
(Southside Daily File Photo/courtesy of the city of Norfolk)

NORFOLK — There’s a pledge here to protect and enhance the natural elements of the “Mermaid City” by becoming one of the many places in the Biophilic Cities Network.

As part of the pledge, the city will track “biophilic indicators” that range from natural conditions to environmental engagement, planning and governance.

Examples of these efforts include:

  • Tree canopy coverage.
  • Land area of shoreline and wetland restoration projects.
  • Annual number of visits to the Elizabeth River Project’s Learning Barge.
  • Distribution of parks and natural areas over time.
  • Biophilic design interventions with projects like St. Paul’s and Wards Corner.

Despite being nearly 100 percent developed, the city has many qualities that make it a biophilic city, officials said in a news release.

The city created and restored nearly 400,000 square feet of shoreline and wetlands which provides new habitat for animals and insects, improves environmental quality, and protects the city from storm surge and erosion, officials said.

Community partners like the Elizabeth River Project educate thousands of residents and visitors a year about the intricacies of the Elizabeth River ecosystem and the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Lafayette River became the first river in Virginia to meet oyster habitat restoration goals after 80 acres of oyster reefs were revitalized.

The improved environment has allowed for the return of blue crabs, dolphins, sea horses, and black sea bass in the river.

The Elizabeth River Trail, a 10.5-mile path, provides recreation opportunities through historic neighborhoods and nature preserves.

The new Norfolk Zoning Ordinance requires open space, native species plantings, and responsible development practices.

Norfolk joins Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Francisco, Wellington, New Zealand, and Singapore as members of both the 100 Resilient Cities and Biophilic Cities networks.

To learn more about the Biophilic Cities Network, click here.

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