UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA                                                                                                          GROUNDS PLAN                                                                                                          OFFICE OF THE ARCHITECT




Natural Systems

Natural systems include the vegetation, waterways, and forested areas that cover and flow through the Grounds.  The topography, trees and streams that run across the University’s borders are simply smaller sections of much larger natural systems, including mountains, forests, wetlands and rivers.  These systems provide wildlife habitat; serve critical functions such as water-air filtration and groundwater recharging; and give the Piedmont Plateau its distinctive natural character and appeal.  A long history of settlement and land cultivation in the region has resulted in a fragmented natural landscape, bisected by roads and railway lines, and covered with agriculture, buildings, parking and other uses.  This fragmentation and the recent surge in suburban development in the region has led to the reduction of many wildlife species, and has also impacted the quality of streams and river habitat.  Recent projects on Grounds have begun to reverse this trend by preserving stands of mature trees and restoring streams and natural vegetation as part of their implementation.


Natural Systems Objectives

The University is committed to planning and growth management that conserves and restores healthful, functional natural systems, and leverages restoration to create places for healthy human environs and wildlife habitat.  To this end, the University has developed a targeted conservation strategy for vital natural systems within and beyond its boundaries, which evaluates University and University Foundation (UVAF) lands to assess their conservation values (see Appendix x).  This analysis determines the relative significance of habitat quality and biodiversity, establishing lands with higher values for protection and restoration, and lands with lower values for redevelopment.  It is important to recognize that redevelopment of already disturbed lands such as parking lots and underutilized buildings poses the least threat to habitat quality and biodiversity and is the best means for conservation.

  • Focus building projects on infill and redevelopment of already disturbed and underutilized land within the 1,135 acres of the developed Grounds.
  • Consult conservation values assessment when siting projects to avoid disruption of highly valuable natural systems. Annually update conservation values assessment to review appropriate use of land and protection of natural resources.
  • Seek opportunities to restore and bridge gaps within natural systems as part of building, infrastructure, and green space project implementation.
  • Continue implementation of the stormwater plan, further developing opportunities to day-light streams in order to improve water quality while creating additional habitat.