March Director’s Message from Ben Willsmore, AILA Vice-President

As Christmas 2022 was rapidly approaching, amongst all the other festive headlines, was the significant announcement coming out of Montreal, Canada regarding the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) agreement from United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP 15).


Under the landmark agreement, countries have committed to protecting at least 30% of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030, and to scaling up financial resources for nature conservation.

The Global Biodiversity Framework identifies 23 specific actions, led by four overarching global goals: 

  1. To protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial and inland aquatic ecosystems. 
  2. To sustainably manage and use marine and coastal ecosystems. 
  3. To take urgent and significant action to halt and reverse the degradation of biodiversity and the depletion of natural resources. 
  4. To enhance the implementation of international law and policy instruments on biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources. 

The agreement also calls for the development of national strategies for the sustainable use of biodiversity, and for the implementation of measures to support indigenous and local communities. 

As an optimistic end to 2022 and start of 2023, it is considered a major step forward in tackling the global crisis of biodiversity loss. Our planet is experiencing a dangerous decline in nature as a result of human activity. One million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades. 

Australia has a unique flora and fauna integral to the identity and economic sustainability of the country, its people, landscapes, and cities. In August 2019, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) declared a Climate and Biodiversity Loss Emergency in recognition of the environmental threats that we are facing here in Australia and globally. 

Half of Australia’s nationally threatened animal species occur in areas planned for urban development, particularly greenfield development, which represents a serious threat to Australia’s environmental health 

As landscape architects, we interact with, enhance, and contribute to biodiversity through the landscapes we plan, design and manage. As such, we carry the privilege and responsibility to constructively shape Australia’s response to the biodiversity extinction crisis and champion the directions set at COP15. 

Landscape architects in public and private practice are constantly striving to (re) green our urban environment. However, in order to address the biodiversity extinction crisis, initiatives must explicitly target more ambitious actions to achieve Biodiversity Positive Design outcomes (BPD). This includes working with and developing links between Indigenous and non-indigenous knowledge systems and management practices which are essential for intelligently caring for the diversity and sensitivity of Australia’s landscapes.

From the valued input of the Climate Positive Design Working Group, AILA has released its Climate Positive Design Position Statement in early 2023, to guide the Institute and support our members to maximise their impact across all aspects of our work in response to this global crisis. The Statement compliments the advice contained within the Climate Positive Design Action Plan: Volume 1 for Australian landscape architects. AILA, through the continue efforts of the working group, will progress a range of initiatives in 2023 to raise our awareness, support our efforts and celebrate real change. 

AILA Committees are critical to the capacity and credibility of AILA. They provide valued advice to the Board to strengthen our contributions and value to members. Being part of a Committee is a great opportunity to expand your professional network and gain valuable experience in a specific area of Landscape Architecture. If you have a particular interest, please contact AILA staff, relevant committee chair or board members to find out how you can get involved.

Ben Willsmore FAILA
AILA Vice-President

Ben Willsmore FAILA, AILA Vice-President