Designing Biodiverse Urban Landscapes on Google’s Campus

Thursday, April 29, 2021 | 10:00 – 11:30 AM

The landscape of the Google campus offers more to Silicon Valley than aesthetics. Google’s Ecology program, launched in 2014, aims to expand wildlife habitat, withstand the effects of climate change, and restore ecological functions of the landscape lost to development. The program has supported efforts to “re-oak” Silicon Valley with native valley oaks and expand the footprint of vanishing willow groves by creating new habitats across the campus.

Learn about Google Ecology’s science-based, collaborative approach to restoration, as well as public resources available for similar projects in the region.

Webinar Resources


Making Nature’s City – This report synthesizes global research to develop a science-based approach for supporting nature in cities.

Re-Oaking Silicon Valley: Building Vibrant Cities with Nature – This report focuses on the benefits that re-oaking could have for local biodiversity and native wildlife in the face of drought and climate change.

Western Santa Clara Valley Historical Ecology Study – This study produced GIS layers and a report describing historical habitats in the Guadalupe, West Valley, and Lower Peninsula Watershed Management Areas of Santa Clara County (the valley floor from Palo Alto to San Jose).

The Biological Deserts Fallacy: Cities in Their Landscapes Contribute More than We Think to Regional Biodiversity

Design Guides

Gardening for Habitat – A guide to help residents plan and install gardens that use California native plants and trees to create habitat for native wildlife.

Integrating Nature in the Urban Landscape: A Design Guide – These guidelines are intended to promote and explore opportunities for urban habitat creation in areas throughout the South San Francisco Bay region, where the creation of urban habitat areas would restore some of the ecosystem features that have been lost through development.

Integrating Nature in Urban Landscapes

Resilient Silicon Valley project, San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI)

Plant Profiles, California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC)

Calscape, California Native Plant Society


Invasive Plant List, Plant Right

Santa Clara Valley Water District Guidelines and Standards for Land Use Near Streams

City of Mountain View North Bayshore Precise Plan Plant Palette Recommendations – Available upon request from the City of Mountain View Community Development Department Planning Division

Birds and Bird-Safe

Questions & Answers

Find questions and answers here:  Webinar Questions & Answers


Erin Beller is the Urban Ecology Program Manager for Google’s Real Estate Sustainability Team, where she leads efforts to improve ecosystem health for people and nature in the communities and landscapes Google calls home. Previously, Erin was an Environmental Scientist on the Resilient Landscapes team at the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI), where her work focused on documenting how California landscapes and ecosystems have changed over time, and using this information to guide the development of landscape-scale restoration and management strategies across the state. She received her B.S. in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California Berkeley, where her research explored the role of history in guiding landscape resilience and ecosystem management of cities and other human-dominated landscapes.

Dan Stephens is a Vice President and Principal of Restoration Design at H.T. Harvey and Associates. He has more than 35 years of experience overseeing habitat restoration project design and implementation, from the conceptual phase and preparation of plans and specifications through construction supervision and long-term site monitoring. His expertise in habitat restoration encompasses a wide variety of environments, from arid lands to wetland habitats, and includes habitat for special-status wildlife species. Dan has a background in all phases of natural resource project management in the public and private sectors, including regulatory agency permitting, habitat impact assessment, and CEQA compliance. Dan is also certified in the California Rapid Assessment Methodology for riparian habitat. In the past 5 years Dan has focused on the restoration of biodiversity in urban environments (primarily in the Bay Area), including designing many projects and producing technical guidance documents for urban habitat design. Dan has a B.S. in Natural Resources from Humboldt State University.

Drew Wenzel, a Real Estate Development Executive at Google, has supported Google’s ground-up development project in the San Francisco Bay Area for eight of the ten years he has been with the company – first as a member of the in-house sustainability team, then as driver of Google’s design and performance standards (particularly around environmental performance, health, and user experience), and presently as a Development Executive leading design and entitlements for ground-up projects. During that time, he has had the pleasure of implementing landscape and habitat guidance based on the ecological science of the region.  Most recently, Drew led the design and entitlement of Google’s Landings development in Mountain View.  When completed, the project will plant over 900 new native trees and complete a significant restoration of Permanente Creek. Drew holds degrees in environmental engineering, civil engineering, and engineering management from Dartmouth College and Stanford University.

Next at Canopy: Greening the Outdoor Classroom: Bringing Nature to School Campuses

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