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Nature Patches

Portland Parks & Recreation's Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Initiative adds nature patches to park landscapes that provide natural experiences for people and habitat for wildlife. Nature patches are natural gardens that support native pollinators and offer opportunities for exploration.
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Upcoming Nature Patches

Volunteer at a Nature Patch

Sign up for an upcoming planting event

A photo of Wilshire Park Nature Patch planting day volunteers.

Nature Patches around Portland

About Nature Patches

What's in a nature patch?

Nature patches bring nature to neighborhood parks. Nature patches are spaces within existing parks that are enhanced with beautiful natural elements for people and wildlife. A variety of natural materials like native Pacific Northwest plants, logs, boulders, paths, and learning elements are added to underused areas to encourage people to play and explore. Nesting boxes, flowering plants, and other additions improve the habitat for birds, pollinating insects, and wildlife. Community members of all ages and abilities are welcome to volunteer to help with planting and stewardship activities.

What is the Ecological Sustainable Landscapes Initiative?

Nature patches are part of the larger Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Initiative. The nature patch program focuses on improving the natural and ecological functions of park spaces while expanding local access to nature for all Portlanders. The goals of the program include: 

  • Provide spaces for people to explore, play, and interact with nature
  • Create ecologically robust landscapes that support native pollinators within developed parks
  • Provide environmental education and stewardship opportunities
  • Increase soil and plant health, and expand the diversity of natural landscapes within parks
  • Foster community partnerships and PP&R collaboration
  • Decrease maintenance inputs over time

The City of Portland and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) have developed a national reputation for sustainable planning, design, and operations. As examples, PP&R was the first certified “Salmon Safe” park system in North America. PP&R strives to practice the most effective ways to incorporate ecological processes into park plans, designs, and maintenance procedures to maximize the ecological function of the landscapes it has the responsibility to manage. Click below to read the Initiative document.

How are nature patch locations selected?

The locations chosen to become nature patches are underused areas of developed parks that are not programmed, are challenging to maintain, or are better suited to natural uses. Alberta, Gabriel, Hazeltine, Lents, Columbia, Midland, Irving, Custer, Cathedral, and Overlook Parks are the first ten parks identified to pilot the Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes program.

Portland Parks & Recreation will be improving additional parks with nature patches across the city, with a focus on neighborhoods with less access to greenspaces. The size of nature patches varies with each park, depending on the current uses and open spaces available. In general, the larger the area, the better it can function to support wildlife. In practice, nature patches range from about an acre to smaller pockets tucked into the existing park landscapes.


Eric Rosewall

Ecologically Sustainable Landscapes Program Coordinator

Upcoming Events


Woodlawn Park Ivy Pulling

Volunteer Event

Woodlawn Park Ivy Pulling

Volunteer Event

Past Events

Woodlawn Park Ivy Pulling

Volunteer Event

Find Your Flare

Volunteer Event