The initial IALI meetings produced consensus opinion on the issues surrounding the delivery of landscape works in Ireland. Below are the preliminary issues highlighted. Please note that the while the initial findings centre around landscape projects, the agreed domain of interest of the IALI ranges much further. The preliminary issues serve as a galvanising focus for fostering collaboration.

This section collates the issues highlighted during the initial meeting. For convenience they have been grouped under appropriate headings.

Collaborative working

  • The industry is fragmented into small sub sectors.
  • It lacks a united representative entity for the various sub sectors.
  • The absence of a unified representative body undermines the wider industry’s ability to lobby and communicate effectively.
  • It lacks formalised working processes and documentation.

Recognition, regulation and representation

  • The absence of a single representative body is a significant contributor to the poor recognition of the wider industry on all levels.
  • The industry lacks governmental regulation, recognition and legislative protection
  • Despite the high level of knowledge required within each sub sector and the important role played by the industry in terms of the environment, sustainability, quality of life, biodiversity, conservation, tourism and health, it is under represented in relevant government departments
  • While industry accreditation is possible through one of the sub-sector professional bodies, such accreditation is often poorly understood by consumers and is not identified or recognised in legislation.

Transparency

  • A lack of regulation and agreed formalisation of processes and procedures has created an opaque working environment with little to no transparency or accountability. This presents a serious threat to industry development.

Specifications and contract documents

  • The industry does not have an agreed form of contract or related work practise.
  • It does not have an agreed specification document or related process.

Working practices

  • Current working practices in terms of design, plant specification, construction and oversight are ad hoc, unclear and undermining the wider industry.
  • In relation to public contracts, designers are currently not engaged in the post design phases of construction, oversight and sign off.

Knowledge deficit

  • Knowledge of plant species and dynamics is perceived as being weak.
  • There are limited sources of plant dynamics information which is contextually relevant to Ireland. Most specifiers rely on UK information.
  • Misunderstandings exist between sub sectors in relation to roles, responsibilities and expectations. Growers and contractors often perceive designers as having limited plant knowledge. Designers perceive growers as having limited insight into the complexity of their jobs.
  • Plant data sources in relation to species, sizes, availability and associated information are difficult to access.
  • Poor understanding of plant availability. The perennial problem: Growers should provide what is asked for/ buyers should specify what’s available.

Fees and pricing

  • Design services are undervalued by clients, the public and designers themselves. Fees often fail to acknowledge the education, skill, knowledge and time required for quality design.
  • The lack of transparency in pricing leaves the system open to abuse.