Environmental horticulture: the innovative policy solution
Following the publication of two new reports, the Horticultural Trades Association explains how plants are a valuable resource in ensuring a greener future for the UK.
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), which has over 1,400 members across the United Kingdom’s entire gardening and environmental horticulture supply chain, has published two new research papers on the value of plants, which highlight the benefits flora can provide to communities.
The answer to many of the UK’s environmental, economic and health challenges is horticulture: specifically, what value plants can offer. These reports highlight the critical significance of environmental horticulture across various aspects of our lives.
Crucially, they provide decision-makers in Westminster, Holyrood, the Senedd, and Stormont with practical policy solutions to utilise flora and the UK’s gardening industry to hit legally binding environmental objectives and achieve many of the aims of the Environmental Improvement Plan. Our industry wants to work closely with political stakeholders and governmental departments to deliver in terms of biodiversity, rural jobs, reducing urban air pollution, and much more.
These reports showcase the enormous economic, environmental and social value of plants, which are often underestimated or sidelined. It is time that environmental horticulture is truly recognised and its potential realised.
As well as the considerable benefits for our health and wellbeing, plants support a vast ecosystem of supply chains and industries, from garden centres to the parks and gardens that draw tourists from all corners of the globe. Our sector works to maximise the value of UK plants and trees and supply them to gardens and communities.
As we approach the next general election, the HTA urges all political parties to fully consider, utilise and support environmental horticulture in their manifestos and policies.
James Barnes, HTA Chairman, commented:
“Environmental Horticulture is one of the few sectors so well positioned to lean into the impacts of climate change and to genuinely deliver green growth. Our ability to deliver on this green agenda is based on fact. The findings of the HTA’s new reports are especially pertinent with the current economic and regulatory context. Our research shows that inward investment from horticulture businesses to improve and promote plants' biosecurity, quality and environmental impact will add significant value to consumers and sustain the volumes of plants and trees supplied into our natural environment. However, we find that increased costs specific to horticulture, such as managing the transition to peat-free production, rising input and seasonal labour costs, and the costs of new environmental regulation or cross-border trade, risk our industry's ability to deliver this value.”
“In economic terms, UK growers produce plants and trees worth £1.54 billion per year at farm-gate prices, employing over 20,000 people. Consumers spend nearly £3 billion per year on plants and trees, with about half spent in the UK’s garden centres, which receive about 200 million visits annually. By contrast, the total attendance at the UK’s Premier League football matches for the 2022-23 season was 15 million. Once supplied into nature, the plants and trees produced by environmental horticulture add significantly to the value of the UK’s assets, assessed at £130 billion by the Office of National Statistics.”
David Lydiat, HTA Public Affairs and Policy Manager commented on sector delivery on the report on the Environmental Improvement Plan:
"The answer to many of the UK’s environmental, economic and health challenges is horticulture and specifically in the value of plants. This report highlights the critical significance of environmental horticulture across various aspects of our lives.
“Often underestimated or sidelined, this report showcases the enormous economic, environmental, and social value of plants. It is time that Environmental Horticulture is truly recognised and its potential realised.
“As well as the considerable benefits for our health and wellbeing, plants support a vast supply chain, from garden tools to parks and gardens that draw tourists from all corners of the globe. Our sector works to maximise the value of UK plants and trees and supply them to gardens and communities.
“As we approach the next general election, we urge all Political Parties to fully consider, utilise and support Environmental Horticulture in their manifestos and policies.”
Recognition and improved policymaking through the creation of a government office for green spaces
We ask the government to formally recognise the value of the environmental horticulture sector by creating a government office for green spaces. A cross-government group tasked to maximise the value of green spaces in all aspects of policymaking and regulatory impact assessments.
'From Nursery to Nature: The Value of Plants', and 'Delivering the UK’s Environment Improvement Plan 2023' through the Value of Plants' can be found here.
Contact us at www.hta.org.uk/policy or email@example.com
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