Valuing our landscape for future generations

Our lives in the 21st century are under increasing threat as our cities overheat, flash floods wreak havoc, forest fires blaze out of control and climate change moves on apace after a summer of increasingly strange weather patterns across the world.

As we adjust to dealing with more extremes, what are the solutions to tackle some of these issues, and the interventions that the landscape profession can make to help mitigate some of these problems?

Issues such as population growth, increasing urbanisation, social inequality, increasing obesity levels, digital and technological innovation, food and water security and climate change, do not respect national or professional boundaries.

These trends and consideration of how we respond to them will be the focus of a two-day international conference Valuing Landscape, organised by the Landscape Institute and IFLA Europe at the University of Greenwich next week (6th & 7th September 2018). The event will give attendees the opportunity to listen, engage and debate many different viewpoints that are held on this topic.

Daniel Cook, CEO of the Landscape Institute, will argue that the importance of valuing landscape is key to ensuring that the landscape profession can win the debate with central and local government policymakers, developers, investors and communities about the benefits that their work brings to people.

The profession has extensive experience across many attributes of landscape, including character, beauty and visual impacts, to name just a few. It wants to explore what more will it needs to do in light of these major global trends & challenges – in fields like health, resilience, landscape management and also emerging fields like natural capital and more intangible aspects like soundscape mapping.

The longer term aim of this event is to develop the landscape profession’s view, in response to major external changes, as to what can and can’t be measured, and how best to create consistent professional standards and principles going forward.

Ahead of the conference Dan Cook said: “We want to ensure that landscape led solutions are sought after by city and rural leaders globally to mitigate the growing pressure on people, place & nature."

He outlined five key priorities we need to address:

  • To be bolder with our nature-based solutions
  • Increase collaboration across different disciplines to solve complex problems
  • Identify the most important attributes that landscape led solutions can bring to society, through the understanding of design, planning, management and science
  • Consistently measure, quantify and value the outcomes and efforts that make the greatest difference to people, place & nature
  • Communicate clearly the benefits and outcomes achieved.

Also speaking at the Valuing Landscape conference is the newly appointed President of the Landscape Institute Adam White who will say: “There is already solid evidence that points to the fact that good, well designed and implemented landscapes can have a profound effect on our mental and physical health and on our quality of life. With the increasing pressure on our health services this will only become more pressing, yet we still see bad design, poor management and inadequate funding. Health & wellbeing is one area where we as landscape architects can really make a huge difference.”

Perhaps the most important question this conference seeks to ask, lies in how landscape professionals can live up to their promises around connecting people, places and nature and the answer must be by better engaging with local communities from the bottom-up, to inform decision-making and drive best practice and innovation.

Tony Williams IFLA Europe President said: Together IFLA Europe & the Landscape Institute have brought together a range of experts with different experiences from around the world. This will help us explore setting internationally agreed standards in landscape practices; putting in place the practical and policy frameworks required to plan, design and manage our landscapes and health services over the next 50 years.”

Placing a value on the landscape is not simply about money, yet it is often the key driver for those signing off on masterplans and developments. It’s vital we think about the future role we can play. Sessions at the event include:

  • Understanding and responding to future trends
  • The evolving definition of landscape value
  • Valuing the intangible – what should we measure?
  • Opportunities around Natural Capital
  • Creating value for people and their wellbeing through green infrastructure
  • Lessons from place-makers around the world
  • Real world case studies and site visits with experts

Key speakers include: Jan Christian Vestre, CEO of Vestre; Sarah Weir, CEO of the Design Council; Ursula Hartenberger, Global Head of Sustainability, RICS Brussels; and Professor Ian Hodge, Professor of Land Economy at Cambridge University.

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