PFM 21 6 - Page 10

Climate Change, Saving Water and How Your
Green Spaces Can be Part of a Change for the
A look at the implications for climate resilient Grounds Maintenance plans for sustainably minded
ith a sweltering June and
July, the UK has this year
seen weather conditions that
had journalists feverishly consulting
Met Office records and looking back
to the past record breaking summer
of 1976. As lawns parched and tinderdry moorlands burned, speculation
invariably revolved around whether
this was weather or evidence of a
sustained shift: climate change. With
the dreaded words “hosepipe ban”
starting to be heard with ever greater
frequency, the Environment Agency’s
(EA) recently launched report “The
State of the Environment: Water
Resources”, its first major report on
water resources in England, suddenly
seemed incredibly prescient. Arguing
that “climate change and demand
from a growing population are the
biggest pressures on the availability
of water”, the report warned that
action would be needed to “increase
supply, reduce demand and cut down
on wastage”. Without action, areas
such as the South East could by 2050
face major deficits.
This situation is becoming serious and
the EA has called for water companies,
consumers and businesses to do their
bit to take on the challenge of
unsustainable demand and wastage of
water. Among recommendations made
was a call for personal water targets to
avoid water shortages to respond to
both current water supplies and the real
challenges of climate change and a
growing population. Clearly, policy shifts
towards reducing water consumption are
likely and, as a result, it makes sense
for those owning and managing green
spaces to anticipate and plan for these
eventualities and for the greater
frequency of extreme weather.
So, how will climate change impact
grounds maintenance?
Summarising the likely impacts of the
UK’s changing climate the Royal
Horticultural Society’s 2017 Report
“Gardening in a Changing Climate”
explains that even if the current
legislative efforts to curb greenhouse
gas emissions prove successful, global
temperatures may still rise by at least a
further 1.5 to 2.0 degrees over the next
100 years, and the UK’s average
temperatures in every season across
each region is set to increase. High year
on year variability in rainfall will continue
and there will be an increased number
of dry spells, which will be most
pronounced in the south. The frequency
of very wet days will increase over the
winter and these will be most
pronounced in the northern areas of the
These conditions will thus become the
new normal for those in the grounds
maintenance industry. Among the many
issues this will create, practical
implications of this will include:

More weeding, mowing and
pruning will be needed as the
extending with warmer springs
and autumns.

Choice of climate resilient
planting for these longer
seasons and extreme weather

More methods of capturing
water during intense rainfall
events and planting schemes
and ground cover that require
less water and retain water

Property owners may consider
introducing irrigation systems
into their grounds – although


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