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The Atlanta BeltLine

Where Atlanta Comes Together. Learn more

Soil and Habitat Quality

The Dirt on Good Soil

In an urban environment, a wide array of contaminants can affect soil quality, which in turn impacts the surrounding habitat. The Atlanta BeltLine project is committed to using the best available practices to restore polluted ground soil, preserve and protect natural habitats, and establish long-term plans for environmental sustainability.

Atlanta BeltLine Guidelines

  1. Restore and maintain a healthy ecosystem along the Atlanta BeltLine corridor composed of native, or native-adapted plantings that provide habitat for urban wildlife Educate Atlanta BeltLine users on the value of urban habitats and the rich ecology of the Atlanta ecoregion
  2. At least 75% of the site vegetated area must be composed of native plants, in compliance with SSI, Credit 4.7

Integrated Sustainability

The Atlanta BeltLine landscape typologies call for the restoration of a native ecosystem within the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, large sections of which are recovering from decades-long kudzu overgrowth. The native and native-adapted plants that are specified for the corridor create the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, with species and forms that are appropriate to Atlanta and are guaranteed to perform well within its various microclimatic conditions. The plant palette specified for the Atlanta BeltLine corridor is site-specific and ecologically rich. When mature, the thousands of trees planted for the Atlanta BeltLine urban forest will provide yearlong or seasonal habitat for resident or migrating species and serve as an ecological corridor between existing habitats.

A soil restoration program will necessarily accompany the landscaping efforts. The Atlanta BeltLine Maintenance Guidelines, which calls for an organic landscape care program that will establish and maintain a living, healthy soil along the entire Atlanta BeltLine corridor. A public education campaign and Overlay District requirements can be used to prevent activities harmful to Atlanta BeltLine soil and habitat quality, such as heavy pesticide use, in areas adjoining the corridor. Materials selected for the Atlanta BeltLine hardscape, transit stations, furnishings and lighting fixtures are non-toxic and will not leach chemicals into the soil or negatively impact the landscape and the wildlife along the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. New structures within the corridor, including transit stations and new bridges and tunnels, are being designed to minimize potential conflict between wildlife and Atlanta BeltLine transit. Fully shielded luminaires will be installed, where possible, to minimize negative impacts on nocturnal environments, and resident and migrant wildlife.

The public art along the Atlanta BeltLine presents a unique opportunity to educate Atlantans and visitors on the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum, and the rich urban ecosystems within the City of Atlanta, endearingly named the “City in a Forest.”

Environmental Issues Addressed

  • Soil Restoration and Management
  • Soil Pollution Prevention
  • Brownfields Remediation
  • Slope Protection and Erosion Control
  • Native / Native-Adapted Landscaping
  • Sustainable Control of Invasives
  • Habitat Restoration
  • Nocturnal Environments Protection

Other Environmental Issues

Imperiled Species Protection (N/A) Education & Outreach

Related Metrics

The Sustainable Sites Initiative 1.4. Preserve threatened or endangered species and their habitats* 4.1. Control and manage known invasive plants found on site* 4.2. Use appropriate, non-evasive plants* 4.3. Create a soil management plan* 4.4. Minimize soil disturbance in design and construction 4.5. Preserve all vegetation designated as special status 4.6. Preserve or restore appropriate plant biomass on site 4.7. Use native plants 4.8. Preserve plant communities native to the ecoregion 4.9. Restore plant communities native to the ecoregion 4.13. Reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire 5.9. Support sustainable processes in plant production 7.1. Control and retain construction pollutants* 7.2. Restore soils disturbed during construction* 7.3. Restore soils disturbed by previous development 9.1. Monitor performance of sustainable design practices

Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND)

SLL Prereq. 2. Imperiled Species and Ecological Communities SLL Prereq. 3. Wetland and Water Body Conservation SLL Credit 2. Brownfield Redevelopment SLL Credit 6. Steep Slope Protection SLL Credit 7. Site Design for Habitat or Wetland and Water Body Conservation SLL Credit 8. Restoration of Habitat or Wetlands and Water Bodies SLL Credit 9. Long-Term Conservation Management of Habitat or Wetlands and Water Bodies