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Sustainability & Environment

Sustainability & Environment

The Environmental Action Plan

The Society of Garden Designer's commitment to addressing the climate emergency, biodiversity crisis and over-consumption of natural resources

The Environmental Action Plan can be downloaded here

As designers, we need to be fully aware of the deepening climate emergency, biodiversity crisis and depletion of natural resources that is occurring and our part in it, no matter how small that may seem.  We have the possibility of creating either negative or positive consequences in the world as a result of our design and material choices. Given the large accumulative area of residential and public gardens in the UK, this large amount of land has the potential to offer the potential to sequester carbon, provide ecosystem services and offer diverse habitats to help reverse the loss in biodiversity. Gardens need to be and can be the solution, not the problem.

In the larger scheme of things, we must understand that we may be beautifying one space (a garden) at the expense of another (the material source).  Ultimately, just lessening this impact is not enough and we must strive to create positive outcomes all around (cradle-to cradle, carbon negative etc). However, we also have to begin somewhere and we do that through understanding the impacts that different materials have on the Earth’s ecosystems.

We start with the simple idea (which may nonetheless be challenging of itself, given current trends) to put less structure into a garden, and more planting.  Then we choose materials that fulfil our needs with the minimum possible impact.

The Guidance Notes listed below are the first few written in what will eventually become a (hopefully) comprehensive resource on material selection.  In it, we try to be objective, listing the pros and cons of each thing.  There are few absolutes, there is no easy way in which to add up carbon emissions for any one thing.  Instead, we try to make assessments of the likely facts: geographical source, working conditions, environmental impact, transportation, energy inputs, scarcity etc, etc, and to weigh those against the benefits.

Policy Statements & Positioning Papers

The following are policies or statements setting out the SGD’s position on various issues relevant to the topics on this page:

SGD Policy on Advertising & Sponsorship

Guidance Notes

So far, the following Notes are available:

GN 001 Artificial Turf, Plants and Walls 

GN 002 Pots & Plastic

GN 003 Lawns

GN 018 Reclaimed Timber

GN 022 Tropical Timber

GN 024 Patio Heaters & Fire Pits

There are 30+ titles in preparation which will be added on a regular basis.

Advisory Notes

AN 001 Plant Passports | Application for Official Registration

Guidance Notes from Other Organisations

TGN 01-19 Biosecurity Toolkit rev 2.pdf