Parks bodies miss out on organising drought debate

Parks consultant points to lack of information from parks bodies.

A landmark RHS debate on green-space drought management will take place in September without input from parks bodies, adding to concerns over the lack of a unified voice for the sector. The RHS’s drought debate will be held on 20 September at the University of Reading, under the heading “Drought and Flood: Water Management for Parks and Gardens in a Changing Climate”. CABE head of research Ed Hobson is chairing a session on the challenge of drought and floods in heritage and municipal parks but neither the Institute for Sport, Parks & Leisure (ISPAL) nor GreenSpace are on the 10-strong event-organising committee. Talks between the two parks bodies stalled in December. RHS head of science Simon Thornton-Wood said: “I accept there is some movement going on [in the parks sector] and there is a need to resolve it. Undoubtedly there are questions about leadership in the parks sector. The organising committee was looking for individual expertise wherever that may lie. It’s not just talking about parks, it’s a much broader question. We expect a strong involvement from people in the parks sector and private gardens. I think a lot will come out of it that’s relevant to that sector. It is very important that we and others keep highlighting the significance of climate change’s impact on gardens in the context of the urban landscape.” He added that September’s conference would have a “more holistic approach than has been projected in the past” and be about “wider questions of water management in the urban landscape”. Parks consultant Bob Ivison, who is the Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management’s representative on the conference working group, said: “It does point to the issue of who do people talk to when there are issues pertinent to the sector such as drought and climate change. “There’s not enough information coming from ISPAL or GreenSpace. They should either get together and sort it out or say: ‘We’ll be the voice for the industry.’” An ISPAL representative said: “It’s not something I’m aware of.” A GreenSpace representative said: “If they had [asked us to organise] we’d have been there.”

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