Tools for restoring vacant urban lots

The US Forest Service Northern Research Station has just launched a toolkit to help agencies, NGOs, and community groups with vacant lot restoration efforts.

The Green Pattern Book and Green Pattern Registry were developed and launched in support of the Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership.


The Green Pattern Book is a planning and implementation guide for greening vacant land—whether as a holding strategy awaiting future development or an immediate action for putting the land back into productive use. The Green Pattern Book establishes a common language that City agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, and residents can use to collectively address vacant land.

The Green Pattern Registry is tool for identifying prospective and actual sites to implement the 8 typologies in the Green Pattern Book. For each element of the Green Pattern Book, BNIA-JFI,,the map creator, compiles data from a variety of primary sources and adds it to a spatial database that connects to Vital Signs community-based indicators, real property records, vacants to values properties, and adopt-a-lots. It is made accessible via a web-based interactive map. It allows green projects to be contextualized with a variety of community indicators related to economic and workforce development, crime and safety, human health, housing, demographics, etc.

These tools were developed in Baltimore for Baltimore, but much about them is transferable elsewhere.

You can learn more about the work of the Baltimore Urban Waters Parnership in vacant lot restoration from the Urban Waters Learning Network.

The Consulting Group at SavATree provides project support to the US Forest Service Northern Research Station and the Baltimore Urban Waters Partnership.