How can we create functional rural landscapes fit for the future?

As the south west of England slowly returns to normal after the extreme flooding, the next Landscape Futures lecture asks the question: how can we create the rural landscapes we need while protecting the countryside we love?

It will explore the major challenges facing all those involved in the future of the countryside, including the recent flooding crisis, which has highlighted how many of our rural landscapes no longer function properly. Rather than preserving a ‘Downtown Abbey’ landscape dedicated to agriculture and leisure, we will need to enable it to adapt, just as we do in cities, to make the landscape work for us all if we are to adapt and cope with the natural and human hazards that await us.

The lecture will explore two closely linked ideas: the need to plan multi-functional landscapes fit for the future and, in doing so, to ensure that they conserve and create landscapes the population wants. It will explore how features such as trees, hedgerows and wetlands, perform vital functions, as well as creating the landscape character that people value.

Lyndis Cole has over 35 years’ experience of environmental planning and management and has been a leading proponent of ‘Nature in the City’; flood alleviation schemes using natural systems; and promoting local foods. She has worked extensively in protected landscapes in England and Wales.

Naomi Oakley’s role at Natural England involves using and commissioning evidence to try and ensure that agri-environment schemes deliver good outcomes. She is also a Secretary of State appointment to the Dartmoor National Park.

Cary Swanwick is particularly associated with the development of Landscape Character Assessment (LCA), having written the widely used 2002 guidance on LCA for England and Scotland. She became Head of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield in 1995 and was appointed to write the third edition of the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, published by the Landscape Institute and IEMA in 2013. Since retirement she has become a trustee of the National Trust, and has recently taken up a consultancy role with National Grid on delivery of their visual impact programme. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Landscape Institute.

Merrick Denton-Thompson worked in local government for most of his career, latterly as Assistant Director of Environment at Hampshire Country Council. He was appointed to the Board of Natural England in 2006 to help develop the new government agency. He is the founding Trustee of the Learning Through Landscapes Trust. He was awarded an OBE for services to education in 2002.

The Landscape Futures lecture series aims to stimulate debate about the future of the landscape and explore the major themes affecting how our land is used and managed, and how that use will affect the prosperity and quality of life of all citizens. The series is programmed in association with Woodhouse.