The Importance of the Independent Voice in Land Management

The drought has shown up the inadequacies of the traditional English policy making system as well as proving that the lobbyists, PR teams and other organisations; including the quangos and traditional printed media are simply useless in the face of real crisis.

And the drought is a real crisis. How are all the new tree plantings going to be watered? – Unless they are lucky enough to be in an exempt zone like the Olympic site or Chelsea.

How is new development going to be able to embrace Sustainable Development, with exposed and consolidated soils and no indication as to how long it will be before watering restrictions are lifted to enable remediation of disturbed ground and the ability for green infrastructure to help absorb water back into soils and thus enable the water cycle to continue?

Nonsense touted by gardening celebrities that we must look towards Mediterranean plants, (and even plastic flowers!?!) are just plain wrong. There are a few heavily disturbed garden soils and urban soils which will cope with such planting – but such advice is based on no solid research and will exasperate problems.

The lack of exemption for horticultural, landscaping and arboricultural businesses to water in their work is catastrophic and yet went largely under the radar. At a time when thousands and thousands of £’s are being spent on extolling the virtue of green infrastructure and the importance for England to finally embrace true sustainable development this is an unforgiveable omission. The traditional model for lobbying has been shown to be hapless; one voice speaking through PR teams on behalf of subscribed members, does not work!

In the case of the drought the Landscape Juice Network stepped in and within a couple of weeks managed to convince the BBC national news and Channel 4 to highlight part of the issue. Their campaign looks like it is far from over and if these independent small businesses cannot work then this campaign is set to get stronger and stronger as they will have more time in front of a computer.

We are now in a position where all greenery in all landscapes and the biodiversity contained in it is at massive threat because of a failed system. But this time it is absolutely vital for the policy makers and water companies and public to listen to those that have had to carry on regardless thus far; the practitioners in their place, who have solutions and can be trusted and who have most importantly the knowledge of soils (far too complex and diverse to map) and other systems at play which provide the answers. The solution can only succeed from the bottom up!

There is a black hole in research and when it does get published it is twisted to favour whichever angle the media or NGO PR wish to take, which is rarely correct. As such and as per most of history the research is carried out on a daily basis by the practitioners themselves whose knowledge should never be underestimated as it clearly is at present, particularly by those who purport to be a ‘relevant’ voice.

The internet has allowed the independent voice to speak out and in doing so it has proven that the true practitioners are willing to share a huge wealth of knowledge gained through a passion for their work.

And given the need for a third voice to compliment the sustainable development pillars for Environment & Economic which are more than adequately covered, the social voice is clearly missing and can be provided by practitioners, academics, surveyors et al., speaking up on behalf of what they know about a particular location. Once public engagement is sorted out – this will more than adequately redress the balance needed for proper across the board sustainable development.

What do you call us – Landscapists?

But if, as happens too often now, this new independent voice is treated in much the same way as ancient Britons were by the Vikings – simply a resource to plunder at will and a voice easily ignored when it suits (usually as and when a campaign or issue is highlighted and PR teams spout out any old nonsense to boost their profile as seen during the Forestry Sell Off – still in the sandbox as the NGOs fight it out), then accept the consequences as the voices on forums gather weight and highlight the real axioms at play – which include highlighting the ineptitude of those who claim to speak on our behalf.

And the most important issue of all – SOIL, (which too many people are simply ignoring in their quest to ensure funding towards ‘carbon centric’ and renewable energy issues), but where lies the answer in actually coming to grip with the drought and virtually all other issues within the hands of humans if they are to ensure green infrastructure for the benefit of all continues to exist, is continued to be ignored because it is too complex and too diverse to be absorbed or understood by PR teams –then we face a calamity.

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