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Vanishing gardens and landscapes threaten UK future

Published: 5 December 2018 - Fiona Garcia
 

Experts warn of the negative impact it will have on the economy and the health and wellbeing of society, as the UK’s gardens get smaller, with nearly a quarter of new homes not having a garden at all.

A report by Oxford Economics for the Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group highlights the significant value of the UK’s horticulture and landscape industries, revealing that the total GDP footprint of the UK’s ornamental horticulture industries in 2017 was £24.2billion.

However, industry experts contend, despite the sector’s economic importance, it “isn’t being taken seriously by Government for the immense benefits it delivers”.

Homes being built without private gardens are on the rise, as predictions show that gardens are getting smaller and nearly a quarter of new homes don’t have gardens at all. Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group (OHRG), in 2020, one million more homes won’t have a private garden compared with 1995.

Frustrated by the lack of provision made by the Government, the OHRG explains that the industry supported around 568,700 in 2017, amounting to 1.6% of total UK employment, and yet horticulture is hardly referenced in the national curriculum or promoted as a valued career path, says the OHRG,

It adds that, despite ornamental horticulture generating £5.4billion in revenue for HM Government in 2017, the industry has been largely ignored and receives little direct support or fiscal incentives. Yet it delivers exceptional public value in terms of the environmental benefit it provides to the nation. 

At the end of October, celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh spoke on behalf of the ornamental horticulture industry at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Horticulture and Gardening Reception in Westminster, calling on MPs to better recognise and invest in this vital industry.

Mr Titchmarsh said:  “We must urgently stop the demise of the UK's gardens and landscapes for the sake of the economy and, equally importantly, for the sake of our health and well-being and that of the environment and wildlife. The health-giving properties of green spaces are well documented and their provision helps to relieve pressure on our troubled National Health Service.'

“This report shows the huge value of ornamental horticulture to the UK’s economy. Last year households spent around £7.5billion on garden goods, with manufacturers selling around £1.3billion-worth of garden goods and products. That’s £1 in every £100 of household spending going on horticultural products and services.  If horticulture continues to be undervalued and overlooked and we carry on building houses without gardens it will have a devastating impact not only on our national economy but also on the environment and our living conditions as a whole.”

“The UK’s commercial growers grew ornamental plants with a production value of £1.35 billion in the UK last year – with Brexit this is an industry we must support and grow, the opportunities are immense.”

Whilst councils across the UK face an average 40% cut to parks and greenspace budgets, the Report reveals that £2.9 billion worth of tourism was attributable to parks and gardens in 2017.

Mr Titchmarsh finishes:  “On top of the huge economic value this industry brings to the UK, it is also critical for the health benefits it delivers. 

“In the same year, UK’s vegetation provided air quality improvement with an economic value of £1.1 billion and averted 1,900 deaths from pollution.

“The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group, chaired by Sue Biggs, RHS director general, is a body of industry leaders and innovators, including retailers, gardening charities and industry bodies, they have long been championing the immense value and benefits of ornamental horticulture to safeguard the nation’s future – it’s time to sit up, take note and act to support this invaluable and immense industry for a better future for all.”

The Ornamental Horticulture Roundtable Group is now calling on Government to:

  • Create opportunities for the industry to scale up UK production in light of Brexit
  • Nurture innovation funding in horticultural science for environmental resilience and health benefits
  • Support the development of a skills roadmap, to ensure a pipeline of talent to meet current and future workforce needs.

 

 

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