Landscape Justice: A Debate

What is landscape justice and why does it matter?

On Wednesday 6 December, in the attractive conference venue of The Wellcome Collection in central London, LRG hosted a half-day debate on the theme of landscape justice. The event brought together researchers, landscape architects, publishers, politicians, archaeologists, artists, writers and many more.
Over the course of the afternoon and evening, we debated and discussed how research could best be used to help bring about justice in people’s relationships with the places in which we live. Core issues and concerns identified in the discussions are informing priorities relating to how we might bring about landscape justice through research, policy and practice.

The event focused on the following two questions:

  1. What does landscape justice mean to you and why does it matter?
  1. How can landscape researchers, practitioners and others work together to bring about justice in people’s relationships with their landscapes?

To set the scene, we invited four speakers from a range of backgrounds, with different perspectives and experiences, to present their take on these questions:
Dr Aviva Rahmani, an eco-art activist whose public and ecological art projects have involved collaborative interdisciplinary community teams with scientists, planners and environmentalists
Peter Peacock, a land reform campaigner, who acts as the Policy Director of Community Land Scotland. He has an extensive background in public policy as leader of a large regional local authority in Scotland and a former MSP and Scottish government Minister
Professor Emily Brady, Professor of Environment and Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, is a senior academic and philosopher who writes and speaks widely on landscape, aesthetics, and environmental ethics.
Professor Ken Olwig, a geographer and philologist, who is interested in the relationship between different concepts of law and different concepts of landscape, and the consequences for landscape justice.  He lives in Scandinavia, but his lecturing and research takes him all over Britain, Europe and the world

The event was chaired by LRG Director Chris Dalglish.
(For more about the speakers and their ‘take’ on landscape justice, click on their names above or images below.


Following the presentations, we had a break out session where the attendees, assigned to small groups, discussed landscape justice in more depth. A particular task was to consider the one thing they would do to help bring about landscape justice.

The concluding plenary session identified several concerns, of which the following seemed to resonate most strongly:

  • Wider access to insights and knowledge from existing landscape research. Rather than necessarily carrying out more research, we should focus on rendering the landscape justice research that already exists into formats and media that are intelligible to a wider audience. We need to connect with the people outside of the research community and professional elites and start from what they understand (or don’t) about landscape. Only then will the research have real impact and relevance, and actually serve people in their landscapes.
  • The impact of borders and boundaries on the perception and management of, and access to, landscapes. Research providing better understanding of how landscape justice is affected could have a wide application in relation to the governance of, for example, nature reserves, cities and between countries.
  • The impact of the language and methods of landscape discourse on the development and acceptance of holistic, sustainable and participative, i.e. ‘landscape’, approaches to environmental governance. Language and terminology that may work in one sector, discipline, area or country, can hinder or skew ‘landscape’ thinking in another. We need to identify culturally-specific language and methods that enable rather than inhibit efforts to achieve landscape justice in the longer term.

A podcast of the event, with the exception of the working groups’ discussions, will available shortly.
We would like to thank the speakers and all participants for their invaluable contributions, and the Caroline Humby Teck Trust for its financial sponsorship, which enabled us to host the event in such a prestigious venue.


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