HTA White paper shows how UK horticulture can grow greener

Adrian Marskell, Managing Director at Bransford Webbs Plant Company in Worcester with some of the plants featuring on the Joy of Plants’ ‘PlantShare’ library.

DIDCOT, UK: Nature-based solutions to climate change such as plants for urban greening and tree planting are one of the most effective ways of mitigating the impacts of climate change at scale and speed, and more can be done to access these solutions by enabling UK ornamental horticulture to maximise its full potential in combatting the climate and biodiversity crises.

Today the leading trade association for the horticulture industry, the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), publish a white paper outlining the key areas for action that could set in train what’s needed to enable this.

It develops the sustainability themes and issues discussed at an HTA roundtable event, sponsored by Easitill Ltd. The meeting saw leading industry figures from horticultural and environmental organisations collectively examine the opportunities and challenges that sustainability presents for horticulture.

David Denny, HTA Director of Research and Insights, who chaired the event, said: “Our event provided a forum for people from inside and outside of horticulture to discuss the challenges of achieving greater sustainability and the opportunities it presents. The white paper summarises that discussion and we’re using it to inform our plans for taking our Sustainability Roadmap for horticulture forwards. It considers how much we could achieve -there are some great things going on in horticulture, but there’s so much more opportunity for us. That’s especially so where greater sustainability can be accelerated by working with government, policy makers and environmental organisations to achieve common goals.”

Summarising the key moments of the discussion, the white paper highlights where industry and policymakers could work together to ensure the contribution to the planet from horticulture is maximised in a sustainable way.

These included:

  • Innovative and creative ways of financing sustainable growth in the UK’s horticultural output would yield huge benefits – it is time for government to facilitate and support investment in the UK horticulture industry.
  • Gardening and gardeners have a role to play in mitigating climate change, and gardening habits are already changing. The horticulture industry has a responsibility to cultivate and promote sustainable gardening, and policy makers have a role to play in facilitating this.
  • Sustainability presents an opportunity to inspire the next generation of greener gardeners. As the role of gardens in fighting climate change becomes more widely known, this will inspire more people into gardening as a hobby or horticulture as a profession.
  • Industry research and development could bring new products and gardening concepts to market that benefit the environment. To accelerate this, the industry must align with the government on further understanding the natural capital value of gardens and green spaces.

The horticulture and landscaping industry has huge potential to benefit the UK economically, environmentally and socially and the capacity to underwrite half of the goals of the UK government’s 25-year environment plan.  Net zero presents an opportunity for the UK horticulture industry to expand its output, but this expansion needs to be sustainable, and the industry must build on its work to reduce waste and its responsible use of resources, with government playing a key part in accelerating this.

A key take-away from the white paper is that there is real benefit in individual businesses collectively making small changes to make a valuable difference and together gaining substantive progress as a sector.

Keith Plekker, Director of Easitill Ltd, said: “Sustainability not only improves the quality of our lives, protects our ecosystem, and preserves natural resources for future generations, but should now be a fundamental and crucial part of any company strategy.

Fundamentally, it’s about the ripple effect. Small or big changes from even one company can have an impact on the environment and influence others to follow suit.”

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