Noel Farrer targets membership boost

Professionals need to stop 'institutional naval gazing', warns Landscape Institute president-elect.

Farrer: will focus on the collective voice - image: HW
Farrer: will focus on the collective voice - image: HW

New Landscape Institute president-elect Noel Farrer says he wants to "dramatically increase membership" to raise the profile of landscape and the institute.

Farrer wants to allow in "movers and shakers" and others with an interest in landscape who are not necessarily chartered landscape architects when he takes over from current president Sue Illman on 1 July 2014.

He said he plans to make the 5,500-member Landscape Institute the focus for "a collective voice" and a hub for debate and comment.

"I think there's an enormous challenge," said Farrer. "Austerity brings into real clarity that landscape isn't anywhere near the top of most people's agendas.

"Politicians say we can let people out of our prisons to look after our parks. There's a total misunderstanding of what good horticulture can actually do. The ignorance is as strong as when I started in the 1980s."

Professionals need to stop "institutional naval gazing", focus more on outside issues, promote their industry and persuade politicians to invest in landscape.

"People in charge do not know who we are. I want to put the institute on the map. There's a huge hole because of the loss of CABE Space. Landscape is a holistic thing."

He said he wants to work more closely with other professional organisations. "We can't afford an adversarial relationship. If the membership did grow dramatically I'd see that as an indicator of the success of my presidency."

Farrer is stepping down as chair of policy, a role he has held for four years, but will work with Illman and newly-elected vice-president elect Ian Phillips until he takes over as president.

He praised Illman's focus on water conservation and the role of landscape in mitigating climate change. "What Sue's been doing is fantastic - it's fundamental," said Farrer.

Dream team - President welcomes changes

Current Landscape Institute president Sue Illman has said she wants to create a dream team to lead the organisation over the next year.

She will work closely with president-elect Noel Farrer and vice-president Ian Phillips. "I'm really pleased," she said. "Noel will do really well. I've known Ian for a long time. He's a town planner as well as a landscape architect, which will be very good. I want us to form a really strong team. We've already started talking about how we can work together."

She added that the demands of the presidency have taken her away from her core business over the past year and she is looking forward to team support.

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