The past 50 years, since the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 1966 Declaration of Concern, have been fruitful for the profession of landscape architecture. Compared to the environmental situation that our ecological planning pioneers faced 50 years ago, North American and European countries, where urbanization and industrialization had led other parts of the world, have seen great improvement. The profession of landscape architecture has been a key to these improvements by raising public awareness, improving the practice of planning and designing our natural and human ecosystems, and better managing our natural and cultural assets using a variety of techniques like design with nature, sustainable site management, ecological stormwater management, greenways and green infrastructure, green roofs, and community engagement. Such obvious success has proved what had been projected by our forerunners 50 years ago: “There is no one-shot cure, nor single-purpose panacea, but the need for collaborative solutions.”
But the challenge to survival is not yet over. Such fortunate improvement at the limited regional scale in the United States cannot remediate the deteriorating global situation. Today, along with globalization and worldwide urbanization, what had been regional and national environmental issues 50 years ago are now global and particularly troublesome in developing countries like Southeast Asia, India, and China. Moreover, climate changes are undeniably severe. Increasing water, food, and energy shortages coupled with environmental degradation threaten the survival of humanity itself. In China, for example, in the past 50 years the population has doubled, the population in urban areas had increased six-fold, 75% of the surface water is polluted, and 400 cities suffer water shortages. At the same time, 70% of the population struggles with urban and rural flooding every year, one-third of the nation is under threat of heavy smog, 50% of wetlands have disappeared in the past 50 years, and a significant number of rare species will never be seen again. In addition, we have the significant loss of much of our rich cultural heritage. Just as our professional leaders said half a century ago: “What is merely offensive or disturbing today threatens life itself tomorrow,” and it is clear that we have no place of escape.
We are however not helpless. What our pioneers have done since the 1966 declaration in North America at least proves to the world that the charge launched by the profession of landscape architecture against environment degradation is successful, and an integrative and symbiotic approach, namely design of landscape processes and patterns, is the key. What we need to sustain us in the next charge against global environmental degradation is to replicate what has proved successful in best practices, opening up ever more integrative and symbiotic approaches at even larger scales, and working still more comprehensively. More than at any other time in history, we must fulfill the mission of healing the earth, a mission defined by our forefathers, where the landscape architect should be a “conductor,” as McHarg declared, not a solo artist, who can bring all related disciplines and individuals of all professions into the medium of landscape.
To face such global challenges and opportunities, we have come to the point of redefining the profession of landscape architecture as the art of survival: to heal the earth and sustain humanity. Landscape is the medium where all natural, biological, and cultural processes interact, and landscape architecture (the planning, design, and management of the landscape) is, therefore, the profession that could lead in meeting the challenges of survival in a complicated physical and cultural environment.
In facing contemporary ecological and environmental issues, three strategies will allow our profession to take leadership:
The original link : https://lafoundation.org/news-events/2016-summit/declarations/art-of-survival/