Green MP Eugenie Sage says landscape architects are “integrators” with a unique ability to interpret multiple sources of information and apply it to design for best outcomes in urban environments.
She told delegates at the 2021 NZILA Firth Conference that one of the key opportunities around the reform of the RMA is in the proposed Strategic Planning Act because that will require the preparation of regional spatial strategies across land, freshwater and the coastal marine area.
“Those spatial strategies and regional spatial plans are supposed to align a whole lot of legislation but here I think there’s an absolutely crucial role for the landscape profession,” Sage said. “You think spatially, you integrate, you can communicate with maps, graphic material, photographs, visual media and just those planning concepts to communities to really enable communities to engage with place shaping at a landscape scale and with the recognition and protection of landscape.
“Use your skills to really influence the development of these regional spatial plans. And I hope that councils, government agencies, mana whenua, will recognise the crucial need to involve people in the landscape profession in developing these plans, both in the strategic thinking, in the community consultation, in developing the policies as well because you are integrators, and because you communicate in a way that is much easier for people to understand often than just the bald words of planned policies and rules.”
She said the ability of landscape architects to interpret and apply information from sources such as Waitangi Tribunal reports, archeological studies and soil maps, synthesise them and then do an overlay of features of the built environment, infrastructure, transport corridors, and work out the best site for a new subdivision for example, meant there was real opportunity and need for the profession in the future.
She also praised the work of the NZILA in developing the new landscape assessment guidelines, and urged members to consider whether it would be advantageous to lobby to have them included in a national environmental standard.
“The guidelines are seeking to develop more of a consistent approach in terms of the application of assessment methodologies - do you want to give that greater weight in law?”
You can see her full presentation in the video below.