Transformative Landscapes Recognition for your Project!

Announcing: Transformative Landscapes Initiative

(Draft for public comment)

The purpose of the Transformative landscapes Initiative is to promote research-based land management methods that are proven to have a measurable positive benefit to the ecosystems and society.

These methods are accessible at any budget, yet are proven to be effective and high impact.

Recognition is available to any type of landscape, including residential, farm, commercial, or public. And while these methods are easy and accessible, they require proven methods that make greenwashing impossible, so TLI recognition is also the gold standard for demonstrating socially and environmentally sound landscape management that can’t be faked.

Transformative Landscapes use proven methods that measurably create positive societal outcomes. By following these criteria, landscapes will be proven to:

Help feed and care for people
Protect water
Sustain global forests
Protect native biodiversity
Provide insect and pollinator sanctuary
Fight climate change
Use Energy efficiently
Build soil
Use materials responsibly and sustainably


Basic Criteria Overview:

Has positive societal impact by feeding people and reducing corporate consumption.
Cares for water by responsibly dealing with water resources on site.
Reduces pollution, including carbon pollution.
Uses materials responsibly, including concrete and plastics.
Protects biodiversity by integrating in habitat for wildlife, native plants and insects.
Stewards and creates healthy soil by using high-impact proven management methods.

Full Criteria

Transformative Landscape criteria and qualifications (DRAFT)


Recognition for “aspiring” projects requires 70% of these criteria with a plan to reach 90%.

Basic recognition requires 90%

Gold and platinum requires 90% plus all criteria for gold or platinum levels.

I. Societal impact.
-Grows some food, medicines or materials for human use on site.
-Reduces the site stewards consumption of corporate products by 10%. (Optional credential for Gold)
-Reduces site stewards consumption and produces an excess to provide for other people through sales or donation. (Platinum)

II. Water:
-Catches and infiltrates water for >60% of site. Submit map of infrastructure to catch and infiltrate >60% of water on site, including runoff from impervious surfaces like buildings and parking lots, by using rain gardens, swales, infiltration basins, trees, forest cover and other green infrastructure.
-Uses water wise holistic techniques. Has a plan to save water and reduce landscape irrigation using deep organic mulches, living mulches, appropriate plants, forest cover, or other effective strategies.
-Has plan to catch and infiltrate >90% of rain water on site. (Gold)
-Has water recycling procedures or grey water system to treat site water. (Platinum)

III. Pollution:
Limits Fossil Fuels:
-No fossil fuel mowing on sites under ¼ acre.
-For larger sites, mown grass is limited to pathways and used recreational areas.

Carbon sequestration
-At maturity, polyculture tree canopy (minimum 3 species) will cover > 40% of site for sites with >30 inches of precipitation. (Submit site plan map)
-Healthy diverse polyculture grassland, savanna, or prairie for sites with <30 inches of precipitation.
-Holistic management of grazing systems.
-No monoculture plantings (Gold – Polyculture has been shown in multiple studies to be a key indicator of carbon sequestration.)
-Documented net carbon sequestration, verified by a 3rd party. (Platinum)

IV. Sustainable materials:
Concrete. The concrete industry is responsible for a massive amount of pollution and atmospheric carbon.
-Limited use of new concrete pavers, bricks and landscaping blocks. (Use for required infrastructure or to supplement used and recycled materials is acceptable.)
-Use of recycled materials wherever possible for landscape features, retaining walls, and pathways.
-No new concrete materials, or where necessary, low-carbon sustainable materials or re-constituted materials are used. (Gold)

Plastics. Agricultural and landscape fabrics are the fastest growing cause of plastics pollution of water and land, and are strongly associated with microplastic and phthalates contamination of food.
-No new plastics pledge. Applying for Transformative Landscapes recognition constitutes a pledge to reduce, or at least to not increase plastics use in the landscape, for management or production purposes.
-Plan to reduce or eliminate plastics for management or production purposes. (Gold, Submit plan)
-No plastics for landscape management or production purposes, or actual reductions in plastics use has been documented. (Platinum, Submit documentation)

V. Biodiversity
-Use of multiple ecosystem types: forest, meadow, prairie, intensive gardens, wetland, hedgerows.
-Integration of wildlife habitat features, such as rockeries, brush piles, bat houses, native pollinator habitat.
-Season long blooms, something is flowering at all times in all parts of the landscape.
-Provide wildlife food sources: a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, native flowers, that are shared with wildlife.
-Provide multiple water sources: birdbaths, ponds, water features.
-No spraying of pesticides or herbicides. (Organic sprays acceptable for production purposes only.)
-High biodiversity site: >200 species/acre. (Gold)
-At least 2 additional 3rd party wildlife certifications (Platinum)

VI. Soil creation. Many of the above criteria are also proven to contribute to soil creation, but these additional factors are special indicators of soil creation.
-No annual mechanical tillage, including the uses of “tilthers” or harrows.
-No chemical fertilizers
-No monoculture plantings
-Minimal bare soil. Use of mulches or permanent ground covers.
-All fertility, compost, organic fertilizers, and mulches are grown on site (Gold)