G. Environmental issues

PlantNetwork supports and seeks to promote the responsible use of resources, recycling, disposal of waste and care for the environment, and recognises the valuable role of horticulture in creating and sustaining environments in which people can lead healthy and enriched lives.

Plant collections have an important role in developing our understanding of climate change and the response to its effect on vegetation change and land use. Climate change will increase extreme events such as heat waves, heavy rainfall, and can lead to a loss of biodiversity, freshwater availability, and air quality. (see also policies B Science and E Education). At the local level, they can be a useful link in demonstrating and teaching best practice in sustainable use of resources.

Horticulturists must seek ways to reduce their impact on the environment by practicing energy and water conservation, waste minimisation and re-use, pollution control, reduction in the use of peat, pesticides, plastics, and non-recyclable materials.

This policy makes general comments about environmental issues, but then refers specifically to Agenda 21.

PlantNetwork aims to promote the use of plant collections to explain environmental issues and to encourage its members to use resources in as sustainable a way as possible.

PlantNetwork has:

  • held a training day on the Use of Peat-free Media at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, in February 2002
  • held a conference on Sustainability of Horticultural Practices in Harrogate in April 2006

To maintain these achievements, PlantNetwork will:

  • encourage members to take every opportunity to use horticultural displays and plant collections to explain environmental issues. This can be done by promoting organic gardening principles, with less reliance on chemicals and non-organic fertilisers. Members can also encourage people to provide richer habitats for wildlife and biodiversity in their back gardens.
  • encourage members to use resources in as environmentally sensitive and sustainable ways as possible
  • provide information on and a forum for the discussion of such issues as the use of peat, GM crops, using timber from renewable sources, and other issues of sustainability.

Agenda 21

Agenda 21 is a plan drawn up at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to protect the global environment into the twenty-first century. It consists of four sections:

  1. Social and economic dimensions (including, for example, accelerating sustainable development, combating poverty and changing consumption patterns).
  2. Conservation and management of resources for development (including protection of the environment, combating deforestation, managing fragile ecosystems and conserving biodiversity).
  3. Strengthening the role of major groups (for instance, global action for women towards sustainable and equitable development, local authority initiatives in support of Agenda 21 and scientific and technical components)
  4. Means of implementation (for example, science for sustainable development, promoting education, public awareness and training and administration for Agenda 21).

Gardens have the potential to demonstrate best practice in many aspects of sustainability. Gardens should undertake such measures as composting and recycling waste, and to liase with their local community (or borough or local council) in investigating such issues as ecologically friendly transport and monitoring local pollution.

PlantNetwork will encourage its members to:

  • use procedures that are in accordance with the principles of sustainability in the management of their collections, e.g. woodlands
  • demonstrate practices that others could use in their own circumstances, e.g. providing habitats for wildlife in back gardens
  • calculate their ecological footprint and in particular their carbon emissions and utilise this in their education programmes to explain the mitigation measures they undertake. Support for this to our member gardens will be developed on our website.

The following policies are also relevant in delivering the policy on Environmental Issues: