Leading UK landscape architects declare climate and biodiversity emergency

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Leading UK landscape architecture firms are calling on landscape architects around the world to act in response to climate breakdown and biodiversity collapse.

UK Landscape Architects Declare, founded by 14 landscape architecture practices and individuals, is asking for collective action to confront the twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss as ‘the most serious issue of our time’. 

UK Landscape Architects Declare said in a statement: ‘We know that we have just over a decade to address the twin crises of global climate heating and mass biodiversity loss, or we risk catastrophic damage to the natural world.’

The group added: ‘Meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift.’

Members of UK Landscape Architects Declare have pledged to design landscapes with a more positive impact on the environment, which should then be part of a larger self-sustaining system. 

The idea is that a wide-ranging declaration of intent, followed by action, international cooperation, and knowledge sharing, will help facilitate this transformation.

The founding signatories of UK Landscape Architects Declare include Grant Associates, Gillespies, Kim Wilkie, LUC, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, Churchman Thornhill Finch, Townshend Landscape Architects, J+LGibbons, LDA Design, Studio Engleback, Dan Pearson Studio, Nigel Dunnett, Landscape Projects and Kinnear Landscape Architects.

"As landscape architects we are in a position to use our skills towards delivering a climate positive future and we can directly help protect and enhance biodiversity, and the wonder of the natural world. Landscape Architects Declare aims to inspire landscape architects to stand side-by-side, using our collective voice - and action - to create this more sustainable future. At practice level, Grant Associates recognises the climate and biodiversity emergencies as the defining challenge of our times. By acknowledging the urgency of these twin issues, it becomes a moral, as well as a practical, imperative to address them in everything we do.”

Andrew Grant, one of the initiators of UK Landscape Architects Declare and director at Grant Associates

Action points proposed by UK Landscape Architects Declare include:

- Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for practical action amongst clients co-consultants and supply chains. 

- Preserve and protect existing irreplaceable landscapes and habitats whilst protecting and optimising areas of functional and biodiverse landscape in all developments.

- Adopt a whole systems approach to landscape design recognising that soils, bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi are key factors for ecosystem survival and carbon sequestration.

- Promote low embodied carbon, and look to maximise carbon sequestering, responsible and sustainable use of water and biodiversity net gains in all projects.

- Establish climate and biodiversity mitigation, adaptation and resilience principles as the key measure of the industry’s success: demonstrated through awards, prizes and listings.  

Background

UK Landscape Architects Declare is part of the global petition Landscape Architects Declare, which is in turn part of Construction Declares. This is a worldwide movement to unite all strands of construction and the built environment in acknowledging the planet’s environmental crisis, and making a positive response.

In early 2019, the UN warned there are only 12 years left to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the only way of averting catastrophic levels of rising seas and increasing extreme weather events and highlighted biodiversity loss was equally harmful to humanity.

The built environment currently accounts for 40% of the UK's carbon emissions according to the UK Green Building Council. Carbon dioxide is produced by burning fossil fuels and directly causes climate change but climate heating is only one of the drivers accelerating global biodiversity loss and dramatic rise in extinctions. Changes in land and sea use, exploitation of organisms, pollution, invasive alien species and erosion of precious soils compound the crisis.

Join the movement at UK Landscape Architects Declare.

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About Grant Associates

Grant Associates is a pioneering international landscape architecture practice. Our work reconnects people with nature in insightful, delightful and distinctive ways whilst addressing the global challenges of urbanisation, the climate crisis and biodiversity extinction.

Our design process is underpinned by a knowledge of human behaviour, nature and ecological science combined with innovative design technology. We bring original thinking, creative collaboration and are exploring what regenerative design and the circular economy means to landscape architecture.

Our varied portfolio includes ambitious large-scale, landmark projects through to small, local ventures.