The role of the Land Management Practitioner – Landscaper, Forester, Arboriculturalist and Gardener is undervalued and ignored in terms of Sustainable Development (SD) despite the fact that they are responsible for the last vestiges of good SD practice and should be at the forefront of any new drive towards SD.
The history of SD can be traced back to the work of John Evelyn and Hans Carl von Carlowitz – the roots of SD as a concept are a by product of the development of modern silviculture. The role of land management in realising true SD would allow practitioners to take their rightful place at the forefront of modern 21st economics in the UK.
In land management terms SD goes well beyond Brundtland & the 2005 UK Government Sustainable Development Strategy, with a quadruple bottom line; Social; Economic; Environmental & Cultural for land management SD.
Environmental: The UKNEA₁ has wide implications as a tool for planning for development to realise environmental and ecological elements of SD, but has thus far not been integrated with mainstream planning or proposed changes to planning₂.
However the use of the UKNEA as a tool to further ‘Biodiversity Offsetting’ would prove controversial at the very least. We simply do not know enough about the biodiversity surrounding us, particularly with regards soil, to use biodiversity offsetting.
The UKNEA thus only provides us with an insurance value and a value to help ascertain the success of a new landscaping / afforestation scheme.
This is why there is a real need for guidelines to force the minds of developers and the general public into looking into landscaping at the initial planning stages and involve land management practitioners throughout every stage of development to ensure environmental considerations are met and are site specific. Landscapers & Arboriculturalists in particular hold the key in making SD happen in the peri urban / urban landscape and foresters, and estate / countryside managers in the rural landscape.
Social: The European Landscape Convention₃ is the ideal platform to use in terms of successful land management in social terms. People are as much a part of a landscape as the landscape is a part of them. The disenfranchisement of a local population from their place is largely due to the existence of an inherent top down approach. Land Management Practitioners live and work in the same landscapes as the rest of the population they are a critical link in realising the necessary bottom up approach with the ability to translate SD and realise it by liaison with their clients and neighbours.
Cultural: In the UK rural, urban and peri-urban landscapes there are many features of heritage value, which are maintained by those in land management, including; dry stone walling, hedgerows, fencing and gates, orchards etc.,. Regional identity is created by using local materials and adds real financial value to property and neighbouring properties.
Economics: The loss of traditional knowledge and skills is a real threat to all landscapes in the UK. The use of standardised imported materials needs to be redressed. Many local quarries have been closed down and woodlands are unmanaged or see their good quality timber being sold for biomass. Whilst the need for innovative products, (such as permeable paving), is vital in realising SD, the use of our local materials helps to ensure the health of the wider landscape. In redressing the balance in terms of realising the importance of the land management practitioner and their suppliers, we will see a surge in the economic growth of our rural landscapes and city green spaces.