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Biophilic Cities Welcomes Reston, VA as Partner City

April 2018

The Biophilic Cities Network is pleased to welcome The Community of Reston, Virginia as a new partner city. This past summer, Reston’s Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) released the first Reston Annual State of the Environment Report (RASER), which launched the process of joining the Biophilic Cities Network. Among the fifty recommendations from the RASER report was the determination that becoming a part of the network would help Reston to fully integrate connections with the natural world into the daily lives of residents. Leading the effort was EAC member Doug Britt, who confirmed that membership in the Biophilic Cities Network would “enable our community to share experiences and lessons learned with other network urban centers regarding ways of integrating nature with the urban landscape to promote the health and wellbeing of our citizens.”
Reston is located in the bustling Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Reston has high regard for its natural resources and preservation and enhancement of the ways in which residents connect with nature. Reston has its roots in ecological planning, as its conception was inspired by Ebenezer Howard’s garden cities movement and emerged from an idea of planning to combine the best elements of the city and the country. Reston was established by Robert E. Simon in 1964 as a planned community with greater amounts of high density housing, conserved open space, and mixed use areas than other suburban developments of its time.
As the population of the D.C. metropolitan area continues to increase, Reston has been under pressure to increase development to accommodate new growth. Despite the unprecedented demands for new development, Reston is continuing to hold its core value of protecting and enhancing its natural resources. In keeping with its roots as a city that works to incorporate nature into the daily lives of citizens, Reston continues to uphold its values as an ecologically grounded and environmentally focused community through the work of the EAC and other community based organizations.
Reston already possesses biophilic qualities that ensure residents are able to incorporate nature into their daily lives. As part of its initial design, Reston has extensive urban forests and water features throughout. As Reston continues to grow, 11% of Reston’s landmass is managed as meadows, wetlands and urban forests. Rooted in its garden city design, the natural areas of the city connect the residential, commercial and recreational areas. In addition, Reston has over fifty-five miles of paths for hiking, walking and biking. Reston’s urban forests have contributed to an expansive tree canopy. Urban forests cover 53% of Reston’s total area and increase the beauty, health and economic vitality of the area.

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In addition to environmental design, Reston has countless programing opportunities that connect residents with the natural world. There are projects and programs dedicated to planting native species, citizen science projects, and conservation. The Walker Nature Center is an integral part of the community as it encompasses seventy-two acres of woodlands and 250 acres of open space.
Stated in RASER, the Reston Association hopes that participation in the Biophilic Cities Network will help them learn about “urban development strategies and projects that may be applicable to Reston’s growth while benefiting the environmental health of its residents.” Reston has the fundamental goal of continuing to give residents a high quality of well-being through ecological services, particularly as development and population increases. In addition, Reston plans to develop guidelines, policies and programs that will continue to further its progress as a Biophilic City.