Sustainable Landscapes Trail

Icon with meadow and treeThe Cornell University Sustainable Landscapes Trail

The Sustainable Landscapes Trail highlights over a dozen sites on campus designed for maximum sustainability, ecosystem services, and natural beauty using our campus as a living laboratory. Sites on the trail provide an opportunity for the campus and visitors to understand the ecological benefits of designed spaces, and explore sustainability in practice to inform our operations. 

The Sustainable Landscapes Trail is comprised of several sites around the Ithaca campus, all open to the public. Each stop has a marker that links to this website, explaining more about the sustainable features, development, and plantings at the site. The trail was launched in 2018, and features open spaces, natural areas, and landscapes with unique sustainability features which were designed with staff, student, and faculty or research collaboration, primarily in cooperation with the School of Integrative Plant Science

Trail Map

The Sustainable Landscapes Trail highlights over a dozen sites on campus designed for maximum sustainability, ecosystem services, and natural beauty using our campus as a living laboratory. 

View the Trail on Google Maps

Each site on the trail features sustainability benefits to our campus and community.  Watch this narrated video tour featuring 16 trail sites or learn more below.

Trail Sites

Our Vision for Sustainable Landscapes

Our vision for sustainable landscaping and the use of our campus as a living laboratory to support it:

  • The landscape should be a learning landscape, fitting the role of an academic institution.

  • The campus will demonstrate, monitor and interpret best practices in sustainable landscape planning, design, and management.

  • The campus should highlight green infrastructure currently on campus and recognize what could be utilized as the campus develops in the future.

  • The landscape should support the goals of Nature Rx, “to reduce stress and thereby increase physical and mental health in students through their engagement with nature, and to cultivate in students an increased appreciation of nature

  • Advocate for sustainable landscapes and practices early in the planning stages for new developments.

What makes a landscape or feature 'sustainable'?

Cornell defines landscape sustainability as designing, constructing, operating, and managing campus grounds to enhance and promote healthy ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems provide ecosystem services.

A sustainable landscape on our campus is also a part of our 'living laboratory campus' - meaning each site can be used for research and education, and was designed using Cornell research or student class projects as part of their implementation. 

About the Trail

The Sustainable Landscapes Trail at Cornell University was developed by the Land Team, a working group of the President’s Campus Sustainability Committee, Cornell's previous sustainability governance committee which was replaced with the Sustainable Cornell Council (SCC) in September 2019.

The Land Team was one of several sub-groups tasked with initiating and developing sustainable practices as they affect the campus landscape, made up of members from faculty in Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, the Grounds Department, Facilities & Campus Services, and Cornell Botanical Gardens, and includes a mix of engaged students, faculty, and staff at all levels who collaborate and innovate together.  

The Trail also fulfilled a goal of the Climate Action Plan.


Questions about the Sustainable Landscapes Trail? Contact Professor Nina Bassuk, School of Integrative Plant Science, or David Cutter, University Landscape Architect