Connect with Metro
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax
trees and bushes

Nature-friendly development

Planning and conservation    Urban development and revitalization    Nature-friendly development

Learn more about nature-friendly development practices that benefit the environment and your business.

Sustainable building and landscaping

Learn more about Metro's role in supporting more sustainable development and maintenance practices in our buildings and landscaping. Go

Balancing growth and livability

Citizen's long-term vision and multi-generational values have created a high quality of life and livability in this region that is remarkably unique and beautiful. But our region is changing. In an average week, the Portland metropolitan area gains more than 500 new residents, increasing pressure on natural areas, wildlife habitat, clean rivers, and streams. As this area grows to accommodate 1 million new citizens in the next 25 years, we will need to find innovative ways to balance development and growth with conservation and livability.

Nature-friendly development and design

Using nature-friendly development practices protects our natural assets as we grow by reducing the impact of development on natural resources. Also called green or low impact development, nature-friendly development practices look beyond the building envelope and focus on land development and site design that mimic nature's processes.

Language bank

View a list of terms and definitions used by those working in the field of low impact development. Download the guide

Key concepts

Nature-friendly practices conserve the natural systems and hydrologic functions of a site. Successful nature-friendly site planning and development:

  • preserves natural areas and minimizes land disturbance
  • protects and incorporates natural systems (wetlands, streams/wildlife corridors, mature forests, native vegetation) into site plans
  • designs landscape elements to catch and absorb rainwater on site
  • reduces impervious surfaces that increase stormwater runoff
  • uses bioretention, pervious pavement and other small-scale stormwater controls
  • uses creative lot layouts, roadway configurations and cul-de-sac designs
  • retains on-site native soil, plants and vegetation
  • minimizes soil compaction
  • retains buffers along streams and rivers
  • locates lots near natural areas to improve aesthetics and privacy
  • builds houses and other structures on a site in patterns that preserve valuable habitat and wildlife corridors and allow stormwater to follow more natural drainage patterns

Benefits and added value

Nature-friendly development practices:

  • help keep nature in every neighborhood
  • increase property values
  • improve water quality and protect drinking water supplies
  • protect and create healthy habitat for fish and wildlife
  • conserve resources and reduce energy use
  • keep this region green, unique and beautiful

Nature-friendly practices

Some specific examples of nature-friendly practices include:

  • tree planting and retaining on-site vegetation
  • landscaping with native plants
  • soil amendments and composting
  • pervious pavers, concrete and/or asphalt for roads, driveways and parking lots
  • green street and bioretention features such as curb cuts, swales and rain gardens
  • ecoroofs
  • skinny roads and cluster development patterns

Related documents

To view PDF files, download free Adobe Reader. To translate PDF files into text to assist visually-impaired users, visit

To view MOV files, download free QuickTime.

Need assistance?

Heather Nelson Kent

Discover in this section

Integrating Habitats: Creating healthy homes for people fish and wildlife

What began as a Nature in Neighborhoods design competition has morphed into a movement! Integrating Habitats' design principles, images and ideas show how our cities, buildings and backyards can improve water quality and provide valuable wildlife habitat.

Nature-friendly development resources

Find and explore online resources, manuals, factsheets and case studies about nature-friendly development.

Green from the Ground Up

Discover seminars for land-savvy building professionals.

Sustainable building and landscaping

Learn more about Metro's role in supporting more sustainable development and maintenance practices.

Impassioned civil discourse in your pajamas - Opt In

Metro pick

Green Building Hotline and Resource Center

Check out a free resource for green building strategies, tips and technical assistance. Residents, businesses and organizations in the region can call 503-823-5431 or visit the website. Go

Featured tool

builderconnect logo


BuilderConnect is a resource for residential builders to find what they need to build green. A couple of clicks connect you to professionals with incentives, certification programs, marketing tools and more. Go

Success story

Bosky Dell

Bosky Dell Natives

This local nursery located in West Linn worked with local volunteers to remove invasive species and restore a healthy riparian buffer by planting more than 5,000 native shrubs and trees that provide wildlife habitat, shade and erosion control.

Integrating habitats

Urban ecotones

Urban Ecotones

Urban Ecotones' design vision stretches over 30 years, offering economic and ecological systems based on a shift from fossil fuel dependency. In the process, built structures and habitat evolve together and the needs of people, wildlife and the planet are balanced over time.
View more designs

© 2014 Metro. All rights reserved.

Send questions, comments and suggestions about the website to

600 NE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97232-2736
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax