The New Landscape Declaration

This renewal of a half century old landscape document in many ways echoes the feelings of frustration many of us feel over the  seemingly mindless pursuit of self interest and greed that continually threatens to overwhelm us, yet unless we are able to get more politically engaged within our communities of interest and beyond; into the other professional and public domains, we are preaching to the converted and our words are unheard by those who are crying for creative steps towards overcoming the myriad challenges awe face in our cities, towns and rural environments.  If you feel this to be true and worthwhile then I urge you to head on over to LAF  , sign the declaration and decide how you can let it be heard more widely than the jus the community of landscape architecture.


On June 10-11, 2016, over 700 landscape architects with a shared concern for the future were assembled by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Inspired by LAF’s 1966 Declaration of Concern, we crafted a new vision for landscape architecture for the 21st century. This is our call to action.
Across borders and beyond walls, from city centers to the last wilderness, humanity’s common ground is the landscape itself. Food, water, oxygen – everything that sustains us comes from and returns to the landscape. What we do to our landscapes we ultimately do to ourselves. The profession charged with designing this common ground is landscape architecture.

After centuries of mistakenly believing we could exploit nature without consequence, we have now entered an age of extreme climate change marked by rising seas, resource depletion, desertification and unprecedented rates of species extinction. Set against the global phenomena of accelerating consumption, urbanization and inequity, these influences disproportionately affect the poor and will impact everyone, everywhere.

Simultaneously, there is profound hope for the future. As we begin to understand the true complexity and holistic nature of the earth system and as we begin to appreciate humanity’s role as integral to its stability and productivity, we can build a new identity for society as a constructive part of nature.

The urgent challenge before us is to redesign our communities in the context of their bioregional landscapes enabling them to adapt to climate change and mitigate its root causes. As designers versed in both environmental and cultural systems, landscape architects are uniquely positioned to bring related professions together into new alliances to address complex social and ecological problems. Landscape architects bring different and often competing interests together so as to give artistic physical form and integrated function to the ideals of equity, sustainability, resiliency and democracy.

As landscape architects we vow to create places that serve the higher purpose of social and ecological justice for all peoples and all species. We vow to create places that nourish our deepest needs for communion with the natural world and with one another. We vow to serve the health and well-being of all communities.

To fulfill these promises, we will work to strengthen and diversify our global capacity as a profession. We will work to cultivate a bold culture of inclusive leadership, advocacy and activism in our ranks. We will work to raise awareness of landscape architecture’s vital contribution. We will work to support research and champion new practices that result in design innovation and policy transformation.

We pledge our services. We seek commitment and action from those who share our concern.

IFLA 2012 Congress : High Performance Landscapes and Landscape Research

The urgent need for the landscape architecture profession to engage with global climate change issues and to become involved in research and conversations around climate change issues and in turn to broaden its agenda to include and embrace performance metrics in its suite of tools was highlighted by Foster Ndubisi’s presentation “Quantifying The Benefits Of High-Performing Landscapes:Prospects And Challenges’‘  at the recent IFLA 2012 Congress in Cape Town, where he emphasised the lack of effective baseline measurements of projects and how this hampered the ability of the landscape architecture profession to back up its claims that landscapes have a value beyond purely aesthetics and concepts of “place making.”  His work with the LAF’s (Landscape Architecture Foundation) ‘Landscape Performance Series’ embodies the type of research and knowledge critically required in order to both deliver and prove the true value of green infrastructure improvements.

The Landscape Performance Series is an online interactive set of resources to show the value of sustainable landscape solutions and provide tools for designers, agencies and advocates to quantify benefits and make the case for sustainable landscapes.

The Landscape Performance Series (LPS) is designed to fill a critical gap in the marketplace and make the concept of “Landscape Performance” and its contribution to sustainability as well known as “Building Performance” is today. The LPS is not a rating system, but rather a hub that brings together information and innovations from research, professional practice and student work in the form of:

  • Case Study Briefs
  • Benefits Toolkit
  • Fast Fact Library
  • Scholarly Works

Coincidently I am reading ‘Landscape Architecture Research’ by Simon Swaffield and M. Ellen Deming who revue the state of recent landscape architecture research and whilst amongst the general themes that emerge, they identify Green Infrastructure as an important topic, they also comment ” Furthermore, some areas of major activity in related disciplines receive little explicit attention in landscape architecture literature. Most noticeable of these is the relative lack of attention to the challenge of climate change adaptation and mitigation at multiple scales. At the precise moment when the practice of landscape architecture is becoming vital to our collective survival, its lack of a coherent research agenda and its lack of relative impact in the wider field of published knowledge make it vulnerable to becoming sidelined in the global academy. The discipline clearly needs a broader and better organized professional research agenda to guide is initiatives, a cleared understanding of what it means to be research based, rather than a service driven profession, and stronger focus upon effective dissemination of the knowledge it creates.”

Foster Ndubisi also spoke about the LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program and that this is not solely a North american incentive but could be applied for by practitioners and academics world wide.

The Case Study Investigation (CSI) program is a unique research collaboration that matches LAF-funded student-faculty research teams with leading practitioners to document the benefits of exemplary high-performing landscape projects. Teams develop methods to quantify environmental, economic and social benefits and produce Case Study Briefs for LAF’s Landscape Performance Series.

The teams are led by LAF Research Fellows, select faculty members with demonstrated interest or expertise in quantifying landscape benefits. Fellows develop methods for data collection, provide academic rigor, and receive funding to support a student research assistant.

Participating firms apply with specific projects and are selected based on the quality of the project, availability of information to document performance, and commitment to participate in the CSI process.

The CSI program is highly collaborative with the goal of better integrating the innovative work being done by academia and practice to advance our knowledge of landscape performance. By investing in this research, LAF hopes that CSI can be a key impetus in moving the landscape architecture profession toward routinely collecting performance data, designing every project with specific performance objectives, and integrating landscape performance in design education.

For more information, contact Linda Ashby at