Presented by Kate Kennen
When soil tests confirm the presence of site contaminants, cost-effective phytotechnology (phytoremediation) plantings can often be effective in mitigating on-site pollutants. These interactions are complicated, sometimes taking decades for remediation, and many times plant-based remediation strategies are not a good fit for environmental cleanup.
Phytotechnology is the use of vegetation and their associated microbes to remediate, contain, or prevent contaminants in soils, sediments, and groundwater. The term ‘phytoremediation,’ where plants are used to remediate sites that are already polluted, is often used interchangeably with ‘phytotechnology,’ but is only one subset of the field. ‘Phytotechnology’ is a much broader term that includes techniques such as pre-emptive installation of vegetation to mitigate ecological problems before they actually occur, as well as stabilization of pollutants on site, beyond just contaminant removal. Green roofs, constructed wetlands, bioswales, bioenergy crop cultivation, and phytoremediation plantings are all forms of ‘phytotechnology,’ a term which encompasses all uses of plants to meet environmental and technological goals.
Plants are a cost-effective method of tracking and mitigating contaminated landscapes. In this presentation, Kate Kennen will explain phytoremediation (plants uptake and remove contaminants) and phytoforensics (plants detect and delineate pollutants). She will discuss some of the limitations of phytoremediation, how to integrate the science of phytoremediation into landscape design practices, preventative (phytobuffering) capabilities, and recommend plant species that can be utilized.
Kate Kennen is the founder and president of Offshoots, Inc., a Boston landscape architecture practice focused on productive planting techniques and phytotechnology consulting. Ms. Kennen’s book PHYTO: Principles of Site Remediation and Landscape Design was published in 2015. Ms. Kennen completed her undergraduate studies in Landscape Architecture at Cornell University, and received her master’s degree with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Having spent her childhood at her family’s garden center in Massachusetts, Ms. Kennen is well versed in the plants of the Northeast. She currently teaches a research seminar in phytoremediation and plant-based technologies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.