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Sustainability Summit Begins Talks About Sustainable Landscapes

A Sustainability Summit was hosted by Marshalls Plc on 16 November 2006, as the first major event in a campaign to educate consumers, trade and industry about the issues of sustainable hard landscaping.

A Sustainability Summit was hosted by Marshalls Plc on 16 November 2006, as the first major event in a campaign to educate consumers, trade and industry about the issues of sustainable hard landscaping.

The Sustainability Summit was organised in response to the growing awareness of climate change and ethical sourcing - in particular imported Indian natural sandstone, which is arriving in the UK often from highly unethical sources.

The Sustainability Summit was attended by leaders in the fields of sustainability, garden design, environmental conscious building, green guides and professional associations, all of whom have a key role to play in setting the sustainable hard landscapes agenda for 2007.

Attending the Summit were experts from Marshalls Plc, The Concrete Centre, Garden Design Journal, Royal Horticultural Society, Builders Merchants Journal, British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) and Scenic Blue landscape gardening francise - together with writers and broadcasters, Mitch Westwood, Peter Seabrook and Jon Symes, author of ‘Your Planet Needs You’.

Presenting the perspectives of the academics, manufacturers, designers, industry and installers, audio podcasts of the Sustainability Summit will soon be available to download from the web, helping to drive debate and ensure that key concerns about sustainability are addressed in 2007.

A major theme that emerged throughout the day was education. Firstly, educating people about the importance of adopting a balanced approach to sustainable landscapes; an approach that supports environmental progress, economic progress and social progress, rather than solely focusing on the environment. This means raising consumer awareness of both the environmental and ethical impact of their decisions.

Secondly, amidst the media firestorm about environmental and sustainability issues, it was also recognised that the major challenge is now to educate people effectively about these issues. This means provide a clear and compelling case for how we can all contribute to the sustainability of our own local landscapes, so that home owners, gardeners, designers, installers and builders merchants alike have the right information to help them make the right choices.

Says Chris Harrop, Group Marketing Director of Marshalls Plc: “Selecting sustainably sourced hard landscaping material helps to minimise our impact on the environment – and we’re dedicated to helping our customers to do just that. But we can’t do it on our own. We’re only one link in the chain; together we can be so much more effective if everyone is thinking about the total sustainability message.”

While being the UK's leading hard landscape transformation company, Marshalls is also a company committed to sustainable best practice. As a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and the FTSE 4 Good, Marshalls ensures that all imported natural sandstone suppliers are audited against the nine point ETI base code by an independent third party.

As the only member of the ETI from the hard landscaping industry, Marshalls offers the reassurance of compliance with the Ethical Trading Initiative base code. In contrast, other unverified sources of natural stone from developing countries are associated with all kinds of human rights abuses. A recent report on sandstone quarrying in Budhpura: concluded that many quarries in India operate using child labour, dangerous working conditions, corrupt trading practices and disastrous environmental management.

Says Mitch Westwood of Westwood Solutions: "The Sustainability Summit was both interesting and enlightening. I'm sure that sustainability will become the hot topic of the landscape industry for next year and Marshalls are to be congratulated for taking the lead on this important issue."

Marshalls chose Pines Calyx for the inaugural summit, as it is the UK’s first sustainable conference venue: an inspiring, cliff top conference venue with ground-breaking environmental architecture, set within an six acres of organically managed gardens. Pines Calyx conference venue is described as a ‘nutritious’ building, working alongside and serving the natural systems of its landscape whilst offering the optimum in healthy interior environments.

The Marshalls for Sustainability programme aims to highlight sustainability issues that affect the hard landscaping market.