Design for Human Ecosystems Design for Human Ecosystems
Landscape Land Use and Natural Resources


John Tillman Lyle
Format: Soft Cover
Length: 287 pages
Publisher: Island Press
ISBN: 155963720X
Copyright: 1999

For more than 30 years, John Tillman Lyle (1934-1998) was one of the leading thinkers in the field of ecological design. Design for Human Ecosystems, originally published in 1985, is his classic text that explores methods of designing landscapes that function in the sustainable ways of natural ecosystems. The book provides a framework for thinking about and understanding ecological design, along with a wealth of real-world examples that bring to life Lyle's key ideas.

Lyle traces the historical growth of design approaches involving natural processes, and presents an introduction to the principles, methods, and techniques that can be used to shape landscape, land use, and natural resources in an ecologically sensitive and sustainable manner.

Lyle argues that careful design of human ecosystems recognizes three fundamental concerns: scale (the relative size of the landscape and its connections with larger and smaller systems), the design process itself, and the underlying order that binds ecosystems together and makes them work. He discusses the importance of each of these concerns, and presents a workable approach to designing systems that effectively accounts for all of them.

The theory presented is supported throughout by numerous case studies that illustrate its practical applications. This new edition features a foreword by Joan Woodward, noted landscape architecture professor and colleague of Lyle, that places the book in the context of current ecological design thinking and discusses Lyle's contributions to the field. It will be a valuable resource for landscape architects, planners, students of ecological design, and anyone interested in creating landscapes that meet the needs of all an area's inhabitants – human and nonhuman alike.


“It is a memorable, timeless, and potentially life-changing book. Lyle traveled extensively to share ideas, but Design for Human Ecosystems stands still and shines like a lighthouse. We see the shine of its light and find our own course.”
-- Joan Woodward, California State Polytechnic University

“His work will be read twenty-five years from now and he will rank among the important figures of this transitional time.”
-- David Orr, Professor and Chair of the Environmental Program, Oberlin College, and author of Earth In Mind and Ecological Literacy

“He is irreplaceable in the role he served. He was a spokesperson for a new way of looking at and acting in the world.”
-- Robert L. Thayer, Jr., FASLA, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of California at Davis

About the Author

John Tillman Lyle was, until his death in the summer of 1998, professor of landscape architecture at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California.

Purchase Design for Human Ecosystems here >>>