I had an interesting day at Bristol University last week, learning about “sustainable landscapes for the future”. I still don’t know what “sustainable” means, particularly when used by landscape architects, but I did learn a lot else.
Two of my regular bugbears came up repeatedly during the day. The first is the lack of good quality science relating to the relationships between flora and fauna. As a non-scientist trying to do the right thing I’m finding this increasingly frustrating. The Urban Pollinator Project, run out of Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh and Reading Universities, should help address at least one element of that. It is looking at pollinator biodiversity in different landscapes. Results are out shortly, and should be fascinating.
The second issue relates to my recent post about the RSPB’s Ad campaign, in a way. Nigel Dunnett, he of pictorial meadows, was one of the speakers. If you get the chance to listen to him lecture do take it. There are things he says I don’t agree with, but his passion and belief in the importance of reconnecting people with nature through flowers is spot on. I also absolutely agree with his view that there is a chasm between ecologists and horticulturists. The wildflower seed market, for example, is pretty much exclusively set up to service landscape restoration projects. Planners award BREEAM ratings for new urban developments if they’re planted with native as opposed to non-native plants. Garden designers won’t use plants native to the UK in formal design. They still plan gardens without thinking about their potential ecological value. Landscape architects seem to do the same with landscapes!
People want to live in landscapes which are aesthetically appealing. The knack is combining that with biodiversity, which means they’ll also be engaged with their environment.