Greening the skies

How can green roofs and living walls help build more sustainable cities for the future? That was the question Chris Churchman was invited to address at this year’s ProLandscaper Future Landscape Conference.

In a world defined by rapid environmental change it’s a complex question that demands a nuanced answer.

Although there’s no doubt intelligent urban greening can absorb carbon, reduce the urban heat island effect and improve biodiversity, the current scale of rollout is so small and fragmented it will take generations to have a meaningful impact. Green interventions need to be supersized and supercharged to make a real difference - particularly given the large scale destruction of the natural world elsewhere.

That’s why Chris argued that if society has to choose between the removal of existing natural capital – whether it’s local green belt or distant rainforest - and urban greening techniques, the greatest benefits will almost always come from protecting what we already have.

Of course that doesn’t mean landscape architects can up tools and walk away. Churchman Thornhill Finch are dedicated to bringing maximum ecological benefits to the urban context. But that commitment needs to be matched by decision makers at all levels of the design process – from planning officers to architects, developers to politicians, community groups to businesses – we all need to be thinking big and thinking green.   

With thanks to The Future Landscape Conference/Eljays44 for the photographs.

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