Leading landscape architect says we need to reconnect with nature

Land Studio, a leading landscape architecture and environmental design studio, says re-connecting people with nature is the key to tackling the impact of global warming.

Simon Richards, founder of Land Studio based in Chester and North Wales, spoke out as the Cop26 climate change conference got underway in Glasgow today.

He said: “Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and the gradual urbanisation of the natural environment, we have become increasingly detached from nature.

“Sadly, too many of us have little or no understanding of the natural processes and cycles that surround us. It has led to a dangerous lack of understanding and care for addressing the problems we have created. For too long, we have been working against nature rather than with it.”

Simon, who recently spoke about climate change to the Henderson Colloquium and The Royal Society of Architects in Wales, believes that we need to champion nature in our communities, towns and cities.

He says that if we connect with natural process, we will enhance biodiversity, reduce flood risk, sequester carbon and create a more resilient food-producing landscape.

“At Land Studio, we embed nature into our designs, whether we are designing a landscape for a school, a residential street, or the re-interpretation of a National Trust property,” he said.

“The water cycle is a key component of our landscapes that also needs to be addressed and fully integrated into our built environment. Enhancement of watercourses and de-culverting of drains are integral to healthy habitats and visible nature.

“The re-establishment of ancient water management practices through rain gardens, woodland management and, critically, the siting of new development help create a resilient natural environment whilst demonstrating to people the positive value of water in our landscapes.

“As a team, we recently visited RHS Bridgewater in Salford, where gardens have been designed and planted with a changing climate in mind.

“Strategies such as sustainable urban drainage have been incorporated there to naturally slow the flow of surface water across the site. Excess water can divert into areas of wet woodland and then filter into the lake near the visitors’ centre.

“Like we all need to consider, the RHS has used drought-tolerant Mediterranean plants in areas of the garden to better prepare it for the challenges of the changing climate.

“At Land Studio, we mostly use native plants when we’re specifying structural planting but we’re already specifying some exotic planting. Highly flexible, these plants are good at responding to unusual environments more quickly than our native plants.

“We are careful to choose ethical and environmentally sensitive materials with a low carbon footprint.

“We are also looking at calculating, reducing and offsetting our carbon in a meaningful and long-term way.

“Bio-diversity enhancement is important too so we’re looking at ways of creating bold and wild landscapes on a podium roof or installing a diverse planting palette based on ancient wild woods to enhance the setting of a glamping site.

“The health of our soils has long been a forgotten component in our landscapes but it forms an integral part of a successful rehabilitation of the natural environment and the enhanced sequestration of carbon.

“Linked to water management, the re-wilding of our catchment areas and their soils could be used as a real-world demonstration of the healing power of nature.

“Nature is at the heart of our practice. If we enable people to have a better understanding of the importance of nature, then we have a greater chance of successfully tackling the challenges of our changing climate.”


About Land Studio

Land Studio works with a wide range of clients from major landowners and charitable trusts to private estates, commercial developers, schools and universities.

The company’s portfolio of work includes major visitor destination projects, education facilities, residential and leisure developments and distinctive garden projects.

The company has an office in The Old Rectory, St Mary’s Hill in Chester and a studio in Cilcain, Flintshire.