Protecting Natural Lands
What makes ALT decide to protect specific parcels of land? Notice that ALT protects “Green” Space not “Open” Space. In our minds, there is a distinction between these two words frequently used in reference to land without buildings. The word “Open” implies empty, vacant nothingness laying fallow in wait for something to fill in the openness — like a mall. This term is development-centric, which is not ALT’s perspective.
We see land without buildings as Green Space with its host of natural attributes, ecological functions, and aesthetic qualities. However, not all land is created equal. ALT directs our capacity towards protecting green space that provides the greatest public benefit. We protect green space that helps to address the regional threats of flooding, combined sewer overflows (CSO’s), loss of scenic character, and loss of unique plant and animal habitats.
Our GREENPRINT guides our decisions on where to seek land protection; it identifies areas on a map of land in Allegheny County that meets the criteria of protecting land with significant biodiversity, scenic quality, and water quality. Highlighted lands represent about 10%, or 70 square miles, of the county. The GREENPRINT was integrated into the Allegheny County Comprehensive Plan, called Allegheny Places.
In 2018, we also launched a Greenprint Planning Tool to help other nonprofits, neighborhood groups, municipalities, individuals, and others make informed community planning decisions. The Greenprint Planning Tool is an interactive online regional mapping tool that features a number of land use data sets from public-sector, non-profit, and private organizations, and makes them available for public use. It serves as an intersectional analysis of the status of all Pittsburgh-area land parcels that is equally accessible to all organizations and individuals to offer opportunities for public engagement and self-education. Our hope is that this tool, developed in partnership with the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center, will inform and empower residents working on land use challenges to take action in protecting their community green spaces.