In the current context, in which tactical interventions are positioned as valid and effective tools to activate citizen participation in the process of constructing the urban environment, the Tactical Landscape group proposes applying these methodologies. To explain the group’s mode of operation, three experiences carried out during 2018 are described: Seed Bombs, Mapocho 42k Kids, Nesting Houses, the Hills of Renca and Feeding Stations and Biological Seed Distribution, reflecting on the learning obtained through these.
Tactical interventions can be described as low-cost, short-duration actions that are capable of generating notable long-term effects. Of late, these strategies have been strongly positioned in the context of Urbanism, developing an extensive set of works that continue to proliferate around the world. Inspired by these experiences, the Tactical Landscape group proposes, in a complementary form, to investigate and test low-cost experimental systems that can contribute to the increase of biodiversity in the landscape, rescuing and multiplying primarily native species. This has materialized in diverse collective acts in the field, in which local communities associated with the site have participated in the process. Three examples of the Tactical Landscape group’s activities are described to show a selection of what has been done during the year in the city of Santiago.
Seed Bombs Mapocho 42Kids
This event was developed within the framework of the OHSTGO 2018 Festival together with Mapocho 42K. Its objective was to help the proliferation of native vegetation along the course of the Mapocho River. To achieve this objective, seed bombs were created and dispersed following a process based on three stages: i) First, a day of seed collection was established in which attendees from the local community of Talagante learned to recognize species of native flora of the Mapocho River and its seeds. (ii) Next, a day was set to teach the attendees the nendo dango technique (1) after which 700 seed bombs were created at the Campus Lo Contador UC. iii) Finally, the adults and children travelled the Mapocho 42K project on bicycle, throwing the seed bombs they had created at various “islands” of substrate or sediment, identified along the section of the river between the Bicentennial Park and the Renato Poblete Park. The activity, though it was brief and its results uncertain, was without a doubt an instance of education about the flora native to the Mapocho River area. It helped to promote in the community an interest in developing biodiversity, and it also created discussion about the state of the river at this urban transect, providing a simple tool, nendo dango, to take personal action.
(1) The nendo dango technique, developed by Masanobu Fuknoka, consists of making balls composed of a mixture of clay, compost, and seeds that are thrown on the sites to be revegetated before the first autumn rains that will activate their germination.
Nesting Houses, The Hills of Renca
This was a workshop carried out in collaboration with the groups Renca Nativa and Semillas (Seeds) in the framework of the Renca Environmental Fair. The main objective was to promote the proliferation of birds for which nesting houses were designed and created for 4 species of birds present in the hills of the future Metropolitan Park: Owls (Tyto alba), Falcons (Falco Spaervius), Pygmy-owls (Glaucidium nanum) and Wrens (Troglodytes aedon). Based on designs from manuals, we developed a workshop in which the participants learned about the characteristics of these species and then assembled the nesting houses using pre-dimensioned pieces of wood. As a complement, each participant received assembly instructions explaining how to replicate the experience at home. Currently, suitable locations are being analyzed for installing the nesting houses in the Hills of Renca in the Fall of 2019 together with the local community.
Feeding and Seed-dispersal Stations
This workshop was carried out in the framework of Chilean Wildlife Day. The activity consisted of building and distributing artifacts where birds could feed upon seeds that would, after a natural digestion process, be distributed over a larger territory. The feeding material was specially selected, including seeds and fruits of native flora species. The aim was to promote the proliferation of this local vegetation throughout the central zone of the country through processes of endozoochory by multiple bird species. The most important references supporting this practical research were the feeders made in Spain and a bibliography on birdlife in Chile. The workshop used wood and basic carpentry tools. The attendees built 16 feeders, which were numbered and once installed could be identified and geo-referenced. In addition to the location, the participants were asked to send audiovisual material and feedback on the behavior of the birds in relation to their feeding. This information has allowed us to create a database on the relationships between endozoochory and germination.
The tactics described above are immediate and low-cost interventions. They correspond to agile research tools, checking — or discarding — the potential of different systems, serving as small-scale trials that, if proven effective, can be replicated on a larger scale. At the same time, they are opportunities to study multiple ecological locations and processes that, to the extent that they incorporate the community, can be considered educational instruments. Knowledge is conveyed to an audience that is not necessarily familiar with these issues, opening a dialogue around environmental awareness.
Although we have not been able to measure the specific results of the different systems studied with any precision within the medium term because they are subject to biotic variables that require the passage of time to develop, we have been able to observe the influence of the collective activities at the social level. New links have been established between local groups. This network of actors has been strengthened, and the organizational capacity of this network has improved in terms of interacting with other private and public institutions. We have also witnessed a sense of empowerment of these groups in the face of larger projects, as is the case of the future Hills of Renca, Metropolitan Park. In short, the tactics developed have proven their effectiveness as tools for activating citizen participation. In this sense, the experiences have served to revalue citizen action in the collaborative construction of new landscapes and their capacity for processes that activate the biodiversity of their ecosystems.
Joaquín Cerda. Architect, and holds a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture PUC 2015. Architect and Independent Landscape Architect. Co-Founder of Tactical Landscape with Bárbara Guerrero.
(2) Process of seed dispersion by species of frugivorous fauna. Sometimes, the treatment that the seed receives in the digestive tract of the animal as a product of the gastric effects is beneficial for its germination, determining links of dependency between the species.