Funded by Defra, Future Flora aims to provide horticulture and landscape professionals with a biosecure way to grow, procure and specify plants

Image: Harry Watkins

Policy makers often talk about the importance of getting the right plant for the right place. But at the moment, it’s almost impossible to know what the right plant is. Our changing climate is a big factor – but researchers have also found that almost all the information we have about plants is either contradictory or out of date.

Worse still, much of the information available to the landscape sectors doesn’t fit seamlessly with digital workflows, undermining our efficiency.

To address these challenges, Future Flora will create new, BIM-compatible data that uses the latest techniques to predict exactly when and why a plant is likely to fail. This increased confidence in plant selection could deliver a step change in the ability of nurseries, landscape contractors, designers and managers to support national policy goals.

Funded by Defra, Future Flora is currently in a public consultation phase, and the researchers are inviting everyone in the landscape sectors to take part in a brief survey.

Harry Watkins, researcher and Chair of the LI Biosecurity Working Group, said:

‘Whether you are in a consultancy, conservation group or a public sector organisation, your views will make a big difference in shaping how we create and implement Future Flora – so please share this survey with your colleagues, clients and suppliers.

‘A cross-sector change starts here.’


  1. As all those in practice know, while certainty around provenance and plant health remain major issues in the control of the spread of disease, the fundamental challenge for those specifying plants is the lack of understanding around aftercare during the establishment period. With losses commonly in double digits and not uncommonly exceeding 50%, we are still all participants in an industry which accepts failure as the norm. How can the Landscape industry continue to accept a situation where significant levels of investment, both financially and in terms of resources, are simply written off due to a basic lack of understanding of management practices? An industry that should have strong green credentials is in reality highly unsustainable.


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