Public involvement in relation to naturalistic ecological planting

It seems likely that a clear consensus as to the appearance and characteristics of ecological planting will be uncommon among the general public. Sharing information is therefore likely to be an important part of the involvement process (though not the only part). Realistic photomontages showing the anticipated appearance of the new plantings may be a helpful means of both giving information and getting feedback about people’s reactions to the proposals. Visits to sites where successful ecological planting has been employed may also be useful. Information giving should not be restricted to issues such as appearance, form and siting, but should include more fundamental issues, such as the whole raison d’etre of ecological plantings, and there should be an emphasis on consensus building.

Pilot projects are also likely to be a useful means of demonstrating what can be achieved, as well as introducing people to some of the seasonal variations in ecological plantings.

Ecological plantings, unlike some other forms of planned change in the urban environment, are unique in that the public can play a significant role in their creation, and possibly also their maintenance (Lickorish et al. 1997). There is therefore real scope for ongoing public involvement in the creation and maintenance of ecological planting projects.