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Large-scale planting for landscaping and infrastructure projects

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Home Research Assessment of large-scale plant biosecurity risks to Scotland Large-scale planting for landscaping and infrastructure projects

Findings and Recommendations

  • This project focussed on a tracing exercise of 13 existing large-scale landscaping and infrastructure projects in Scotland. We spoke to different stakeholders each involved in at least one stage of planning, specification, procurement, monitoring and planting. This helped us get a holistic view of these projects from start (when they produce the planting plans) to finish (when the plants have been planted and are maintained). In total, we spoke to 18 respondents including landscape architects, clients, landscape contractors, landscape managers and local authority council planning departments. In addition, a number of sites were visited to check what had actually been planted.
  • We found that 67% of participants believed that the planting carried out matched the original plans. However, fieldwork showed that just a quarter of these sites were planted exactly as specified on the plans. This shows that there is a mismatch in perceptions of and actual practices.
  • There was generally low awareness of biosecurity among the participating stakeholders, with just 15% reporting their awareness as high. None of the stakeholders reported biosecurity as one of their most important factors when specifying plants, choosing a contractor, or choosing a plant supplier. 
  • Interview respondents felt a sense of pride towards their projects and expressed an interest in learning about biosecurity. However, our findings show that responsibilities for biosecurity are not clear and there is often an assumption that others are taking care of plant health. There are a number of systemic biosecurity issues throughout the process from specifying plants (e.g. lack of species diversity) to planting (e.g. not all plants specified ended up in the ground). This poses a potential risk to Scotland's plant health. 
  • We also identified a number of opportunities, for example, including more stringent biosecurity measures when specifying plants, improving communication, oversight and enforcement throughout the process, and improving awareness among stakeholders. The research participants were very engaged and interested in the research, indicating scope for further engagement with these groups.  

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Research Status
current