Natural Resources and Protected Landscapes 

An overview from Working Group Chair, Tony Williams

NR+PL Group Mission

The mission of Natural Resources & Protected Landscapes Group is to develop tools, such as methodologies and indicators, for landscape professionals to approach design and planning when working either with natural resources and/or protected landscapes in order to aid decision making processes.


By way of definition we may use the following terms

Natural Resources. The definition used by the OECD[1] may be used

Natural resources are natural assets (raw materials) occurring in nature that can be used for economic production or consumption.

Of course as landscape architects we may see these as the natural resources necessary for a healthy environment and not necessarily an exploitable resources. Thus we may define NR by adding an additional aspect ……

Natural resources are natural assets (raw materials) occurring in nature that can be used for economic production or consumption.……………and which must be managed responsibly to ensure the health and well being of our planet, our ecosystems and our populations.

Protected Landscapes. The definition used by IUCN[2] may be used

Areas where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value and where safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values.

NR&PL Group Vision
The vision of Natural Resources (NR) & Protected Landscapes (PL) Group is

  • to provide access to research and studies and thus provide  information related to natural resources or to protected landscapes.
  • to develop minimum tools for Landscape Professionals to assist the decision making processes as part of planning, design, construction and management of our natural resources and protected landscapes
  • to generate methodologies and indicators that can be easily implemented and can be augmented in the future.

As landscape architects, we face a scarcity of knowledge on how to approach design, planning as well as management of NR and/or PL. The information and knowledge is available but from a variety of sources. One of our early tasks is therefore to search for and provide information on methodologies and techniques to assist us in our work. Though much of this knowledge may not be specifically developed by landscape professionals, it will be of use to us in developing clear guidance for the tasks we must undertake in order to ensure we manage our planetary resources in a responsible manner and also ensure we both develop and protect our valuable landscapes.

Some of our methodologies may be derived from a biological approach to management of landscapes, from engineering principles and our landscape architectural expertise (which is wide and varied in our membership) will ensure we  develop a coherent approach  to the planning, design and construction / maintenance of our landscapes and in so doing both protect both our natural resources and manage the changes in our landscape  due to human and other factors, most notably climate change..

We currently have a project on creating ecological corridors for urban areas and also an outline of a project on Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) and implementation and this is part of how we might deliver on the aspirations of the ecological corridors………… the two are linked.

The main project is ‘Indigenous Ecological Corridors and Nodes (IEC+N) and is a joint effort between the Union International des Architectes (UIA) and the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). Further information is available at the links below.

This project is of course closely linked to the IFLA/UIA Working Group under the chair of Helena Gutmane.

The focus of IEC+N is urban and focuses on linking the urban area to the hinterland and region ecologically….and culturally. It is about green spaces but also about a healthy urban area that aims to assist in managing green spaces, flooding, habitat biodiversity and effects of climate change.

It would be our aspiration that the IEC+N Project between IFLA and UIA will be further developing links to projects such as the UN Global Cities ‘Resilient Cities’ programme and focusing on Urban Ecologies.

We are also exploring the possibilities of developing relationships with other professions and organisations and expect to develop a memorandum of understanding shortly with the Society for Ecological Restoration.

Photographs courtesy of the National Inventory of Architectural heritage, Department of Culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht, Republic of Ireland.

Photographs courtesy of the National Inventory of Architectural heritage, Department of Culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht, Republic of Ireland.

Projects developing from the Blue Green Infrastructure Working Group of IFLA Europe[3].

There are two projects which may be of interest and may tie in somehow to the development of landscape standards including design, construction and operational phases. It is also in line with the evolving Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) focus of the European Commission.

IFLA Europe are developing a Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) Manual and  have formed a group consisting of IFLA Europe, Government Agencies with responsibility for environmental policy and  the research ‘arm’ which includes academia.. Project development is being undertaken at present and we will be undertaking the first phase in the first quarter of this year (2018). Further information will be provided as the project develops and we have seed funding to develop the first phase leading to a more developed phase 2 when the ‘real work’ will be undertaken. The project will be expanded to a global project as we develop.

As part of my current work, a similar project is also ongoing as part of a consortium in U.K. and Ireland and we would expect to tie in to such efforts and expand upon them to a global context.

The IFLA Europe project is not focused on linear infrastructure and so is of more general use but of course will surely inform our work. The   preparation of guidance manuals, some being like the CIRIA project and locally focused and for specific infrastructure, is a key component in ensuring we are able to design, build and maintain our BGI in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

I encourage IFLA members that would like to either be part of the NR&PL Group to sign up by sending me an email message at

Or if your Local Association/Region will like to provide a case study or pilot project, please let me know by through your Local IFLA Delegate and cc’ing in our PPP President, Marina Cervera de Alonso

All projects will be revised by the NR&PL team under the following criteria:

  1. Must be a project that includes or is related to natural resources.
  2. Must be a project that includes or is related to either protected landscapes or landscapes to be protected.


Most of our work will be on a pro bono basis i.e. we work as volunteers but we will also need to develop collaborative projects with other organisations and so we need to ensure we develop our projects with a collaborative approach.

Our projects will by necessity be funded from IFLA but also we need to develop proposals which may be used to draw funds from other sources and both from a commercial point of view and from Governmental and Non-Governmental organisations.

Many thanks in advance for your support!

Members of this working group are in essence all IFLA members whether they be delegates or not.

However, dedicated members will be assembled as the working group progresses


Tony Williams

Members are welcome to apply and we would like you to be both effective and collaborative. So we would love to hear from you……………



[3] Vice President of Professional Practice in IFLA Europe and Leor Lovinger as project manager and Hermann G. Gunnlaugsson .