Naturalization is the process by which land that was previously maintained through mechanical mowing is returned to a natural state, similar to surrounding naturally occurring ecosystems.
Many municipalities within Alberta are moving towards more naturalized landscapes to capitalize on the many ecosystem services provided by natural areas.
Ecosystem services are services provided through natural landscapes that offer benefits without significant capital investment. These services are broken into four categories: provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural.
Provisioning services include raw materials naturalized areas provide residents such as edible landscapes.
Regulating services include benefits provided by naturalized areas for the protection of infrastructure, such as the retention of stormwater runoff to prevent downstream flooding.
Supporting services include benefits provided by naturalized areas for non-human organisms such as bees and other local pollinators.
Cultural services include the intrinsic value naturalized landscapes provide humans and the benefits offered through human interactions with these landscapes.