Where do you stand?
Landscaping projects have the potential to improve the environment, conserve and enhance the biodiversity of an area and provide people with a positive environmental experience.
However, the very nature of landscape projects also means that, without due care, they can easily damage the environment too, such as silting up a stream, wasting water or generating air and noise pollution.
The challenge is to find ways to carry out projects without having a negative affect on the environment. People working in the landscape industry have the best understanding of what the work involves and are best placed to develop solutions.
This fact sheet has been designed to prompt you to think about your approach to landscaping projects and to develop your own set of principles and/or organisational policies to guide your work. Planning the job site fact sheet provides guidance on planning for individual sites.
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Individuals working in the landscape industry at all levels can make a significant contribution to caring for the environment by first of all accepting responsibility for their own actions.
Others should not be left to clean up or rectify environmental problems resulting from landscape work. Working out where you stand in regard to the environment, particularly in relation to your every day work practices, could be the first step in a whole new way of approaching your work.
It's important that you know about and fully understand the environmental consequences that may result from specific design decision, construction decision, work practice or maintenance practice.
If you equip yourself with this knowledge you'll be in a better position to make correct decisions and select appropriate work practices. You might need to read up about environmental issues in landscaping work, or attend a course, and if you do, you'll probably find that improving environmental practices can improve other aspects of your business as well.
It's a good idea to set out your own environmental goals as a written policy or philosophy, perhaps setting out standards and work practices. This document can develop over time as you learn more about environmental practices, and will help you improve your awareness and performance.
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Membership of industry groups
Industry groups such as the Landscape Contractors Association (LCA), The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), the Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH) and the Australian Institute of Landscape Designers and Managers (AILDM) frequently discuss issues surrounding best environmental practice and publish this information in newsletters and journals.
Some of these groups have adopted an environmental code of ethics, which can provide a useful guide.
Landscaping companies should draw up their own code of environmental ethics and adopt it as company policy. This policy should describe the company's overall environmental philosophy and its environmental goals and objectives for all staff to follow, from manager to supervisor to worker.
Well-written company policies may help you to win jobs in a tendering situation if they are submitted with a tender.
A potential client may be favourably disposed towards your business because of your stated environmental philosophy. Environmental policies should be reviewed regularly, looking at past and current practices, and revised if necessary.
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Implementing your policy
For a company environmental policy to be effective, it will need proper implementation. For example, your business may need to run induction programs for new staff, re-train existing staff, and adopt new work practices.
If you're changing work practices, close supervision may be necessary at first to make sure the new practices are followed, and that people understand why the changes are being made. It's a good idea to involve staff by asking for their suggestions, and encouraging them to think about the issues involved rather than just following procedures.
It's important to integrate and coordinate activities at all stages throughout a project, particularly if you're introducing any changes in work practices. You'll get better results if the ideas carry through each stage of a project, from planning and design, selecting materials and vegetation, managing a site, construction practices, maintenance and project evaluation.
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Ecologically sustainable development
Ecologically sustainable development (ESD) is a concept that has developed over the last 30 years following widespread concern about the effects of growth and development on the natural environment. The principles of ESD are a good common basis for writing a personal or company environmental code of ethics.
Ecologically sustainable development (ESD) has been defined as:
'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.
The key principles of ESD are:
- The precautionary principle
Reduce the chance of serious environmental problems, even if we are not sure these problems will occur.
- Inter-generational equity
The present generation should ensure the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.
- Conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity
Maintain or enhance the range of native plants and animals and the health of natural areas.
- Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms
Environmental factors should be included in the valuation of assets and services, such as: polluter pays - that is, those who generate pollution and waste should bear the cost of avoiding waste, containing it or abatement, and, the users of goods and services should pay prices based on the full life cycle of costs of providing goods and services, including the use of natural resources and assets and the ultimate disposal of any waste.
Page last updated: 27 February 2011