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Will we start valuing landscape once cities overheat, forests burn and we die early?

Our lives are under increasing threat. The list concerns include cities overheating, flash floods, forest fires and rapid climate change. As we adjust to dealing with more extremes, what are the solutions to tackle some of these issues? And what are the interventions that the landscape profession can make to help mitigate some of these problemsIssues such as over-population, urbanisation, inequality and obesity do not respect professional boundaries. These trends and how we respond to them will be the focus of a two-day international conference Valuing Landscape. The conference put on by the Landscape Institute and IFLA Europe at the University of Greenwich, takes place next week (6 – 7 September 2018).
The event will give attendees the opportunity to listen, engage and debate many different viewpoints on this topic.
Daniel Cook, CEO of the LI, will argue the importance of valuing landscape. He will cover the profession being key to winning the debate with government and communities about their works benefits. It wants to explore what more will it needs to do in light of these major global trends and challenges. The challenges are present in fields like health, resilience and landscape management. It is also appearing in emerging fields like natural capital and soundscape mapping. The longer term aim of this event is to develop the landscape profession’s view, in response to major external changes. It hopes to show what we can and can’t measure, and how 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. This is to mitigate the growing pressure on people, place & nature.

There are five key priorities 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. This will be through the understanding design, planning, management and science
  • Measure, quantify and value the outcomes and efforts that make the greatest difference to people, place & nature
  • Communicate the benefits and outcomes achieved.”
Also speaking at the Valuing Landscape conference is the newly appointed president of the LI, Adam White. He will say: “There is solid evidence that shows well designed landscapes have a profound effect on our health and quality of life. With increasing pressure on health services, this will 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 make a huge difference.”
Perhaps the most important question this conference seeks to ask, is how landscapers keep their promises. These include connecting people, places and nature. The answer is by engaging local communities, informing decision-making and driving innovation.
Tony Williams IFLA Europe president said:
Together IFLA Europe & the Landscape Institute have brought together a range of experts from around the world. This will help us explore setting internationally agreed standards in landscape practices. It will also help putting in place the practical and policy frameworks required to plan, design and manage landscapes 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 to think about the future role we can play.

Valuing Landscape sessions 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 well being through green infrastructure
  • Lessons from place-makers around the world
  • Real world case studies and site visits with experts

Key speakers and topics include:

Jan Christian Vestre, CEO of Vestre will be exploring how future trends and wider challenges will impact on the importance of value. With great changes, external influence will affect the value society attributes to landscape and place. It is essential we understand and factor in the next generation’s views on the environment – it will shape the work of our sector. Our design approach must be human experience inspired and achieve social action to help local communities.
Sarah Weir, CEO of the Design Council will argue that Integrating art, design, construction and landscape design is best placed early in project development to get most benefit for communities. She believes that perception over the past 10-15 years on public spaces and landscape has gone from a cost to an asset. Going forward there is a need for real conversations and greater co-production with communities. Greater consideration of social inclusion by those working in design will be essential.
Ursula Hartenberger from RICS Brussels will show her organisation’s links sustainability to value. Through targeted skills development and improving the evidence base on building sustainability features, Ursula has been working towards changing mind-sets and practice around how aspects of sustainability. She aims to show how this can reflect profession value and influence investment decision-making of clients.
Professor Ian Hodge, professor of land economy at Cambridge University, will help outline ecosystem services. Also know as, natural capital accounting, Hodge will show this as the key component of landscape values. He will discuss the different philosophies of value from an economist’s perspective. He will indicate comparisons between different values have to be done against common units of measurement. He will also open up a debate about the advantages and challenges of determining value in monetary terms.
The following speakers will showcase real world examples that are creating a new valuing landscape for people, places & nature:
Dr Phil Askew, director, Landscape and Placemaking for Thamesmead, he will talk about Thamesmead in East London. Thamesmead has a rich landscape of 75 hectares of greenways, pocket parks, 7km of canals, five lakes, 5km of river frontage and 30,000 trees. It has more than double the amount of green space per person than the London average. The existing landscape is therefore one of its most valuable assets and the goal is to improve and preserve it for locals and visitors to enjoy. This session will explore the strategy put in place to make the most of these assets. This includes public space design, co-design of public realm and management and stewardship of these assets. Most importantly it will look at how this is all done from a bottom-up approach.
Polypipe’s Nicholas Wright will be joining Dr Phil Askew to show attendees around Thamesmead. He will be discussing how the use of SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) will dramatically benefit the site. The increase in climate change and urbanisation has pushed Polypipe to develop with innovation. He will outline their engineer systems, that make space for water and provide multifunctional benefits.
Joris Voeten, Urban Roofscapes, based in the Netherlands who recently spoke about his research and findings about passive irrigation on roofs, will contribute his thoughts on how a new kind of value can be created for the future by landscape professionals.
Miriam Weber, senior advisor, Health Urban Living and Resilience in Utrecht will be talking about her experience in improving health outcomes for the city.
Montserrat Prado from the Urban Institute, Barcelona City Council will be talking about the city’s success in developing a ‘bottom-up’ strategy. This involved working with neighbourhoods and experts to uphold the identity of communities. The feeling of belonging to a community is vital for well-being and detailed knowledge of an area. From landscape auscultation, to listening to its beat. This is becoming an essential tool for planning and working on infrastructures and urban development.
Mark Kristmanson, CEO of National Capital Commission (NCC), Ottawa, Canada will be presenting a case study. This will discuss a recent study that accounts for the natural capital assets and ecosystem services that NCC provides. Managing 55,000 hectares of green space in an urban setting, the NCC is pivotal in fostering a ‘landscape of sustainability’. This is through the lens of natural capital accounting. As the planner and regulator of federal land use and design in the region, he will demonstrate how the NCC’s landscape professionals have an opportunity to reconcile ecology and land economics in an ethos of sustainability on a regional scale.

Other speakers at the Valuing Landscape conference include:

Howard Davies, CEO of The National Association for AONBs
Ursula Forzcek-Bratanies, secretary general, IFLA Europe
Laura Gatti, director, Laura Gatti Consultants, Italy & Co-designer of the ‘Bosco Verticale’
Dr Deb Upadhyaya, Specialist Homes England
Professor David Maguire, vice-chancellor, University of Greenwich
Sue Biggs, director general, RHS
John Acres, RTPI president
Professor Antonella Radicchi, Hush City Mobile Lab, Berlin.
Tickets are available for each specific day of Valuing Landscape, or a pass for two days is also available. To reserve a space visit:
The full Valuing Landscape conference programme is available via:
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