The relevance of landscape
Landscape provides the fundamental support system for
life on earth.
Our living environment reflects human habits of consumption and waste, and historic attitudes towards the landscape have resulted in its currently degraded condition.
Our attitude to the landscape shapes the wider environment in physical, economic, social and cultural terms.
Putting a value on landscape
Because 90% of the Australian population live in our cities and coastal built environments, our urban built form has become the most common landscape we rely on to support the majority of human physical and social needs.
Planning, design and management of the urban landscape requires an understanding of the functionality and performance of the built environment as a total system.
It involves far more than simply arranging and maintaining “green stuff”- the trees and vegetation - it includes the impacts of human activity on soils, water, vegetation, biodiversity, materials and energy use, as well as how we understand, value and interact with our environment over time.
All urban landscapes have the capacity to enhance and regenerate the natural benefits and services provided by ecosystems in their natural state.
Single dwellings, housing estates, parks, industrial estates, shopping malls, infrastructure corridors or regional recreation areas have the potential to function as an integral part of this broader global life-support system.
The key to unlocking this potential lies in how landscape value is managed.
The issue of climate change has brought a new urgency to questions of how we manage landscape across a range of scales.
Continuing to ignore the landscape performance value of our urban ecosystems through insensitive or ill-informed development effectively condemns the broader environment to further degradation.
There is a critical need to develop a collaborative, equitable, co-ordinated and long-term approach to urban landscape planning, design and management which aims not merely to minimise damage to ecosystems but to proactively maximise opportunities for the enhancement and regeneration of natural resources.
We must consider landscape systems in a more comprehensive manner, including the previously disregarded contribution of our urban ecosystems.
The challenge is to develop design based approaches to landscape and all urban development that deliver sustainable outcomes in terms of economics, health and environmental systems.