The Rockaways is still in the process of rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy but the area’s resiliency against the next superstorm is still in question. While multiple architects have come up with ideas to prepare for future flooding, Walter Meyer’s sunken forest may be the most ambitious plan yet. Meyer, who runs Local Office Landscape Architecture, has proposed a 50-acre nature park that grows five feet below ground level in order to create a green buffer that could provide protection again storm surge.

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According to Local Office Landscape Architecture, this dug-in forest could act as a natural reservoir. Coupled with a beach grass waterfront dune and another, taller forested dune behind it, the sunken forest would help prevent water from passing through.

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As a secondary function, the nature preserve would act as a new sanctuary for wildlife. Meyer explained to Capital New York that the project would include wetlands and bogs to create a fresh water habitat for migratory and native birds. There are also plans to reintroduce animals once indigenous to the area including salamanders and freshwater turtles.

Even when there isn’t a hurricane-scale storm rolling through the neighborhood, the forest could help absorb storm surge and keep groundwater underground. Typically, streets can even become flooded after a small shower, and Mayer explains that this is because groundwater actually lies very close to the Rockaway peninsula’s surface. Mayer believes the nature preserve’s newly introduced trees would help extract more of the area’s freshwater, thereby lowering the water table in the area.

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For now, the proposal has not been formally submitted to the city but multiple area officials support the idea of putting more protection in place alongside new housing developments. In a separate 35-acre project destined for Arverne East, the city has requested proposals that require both a dune preserve and a “nature preserve” of some sort.

+ Local Office Landscape Architecture

via Capital New York

Images © Local Office Landscape Architecture