Theory & Discorse
Landscape Architecture and Ecology in India | Nikhil Dhar
LA 57
With pollution having reached an alarming level, the survival of India's environment is severely threatened. It is imperative at this moment in time that we bring about a certain introspection as to what it is, as landscape architects, that we can do to better this state. We must recognise that interventions in the environment, henceforth, be responsive to the natural systems and resources. What measures, thus, can we adopt as designers in our approach as well as our mindsets to ensure we practice sustainably.
The state of India's environment is of grave concern. Our land, water and air continue to become more and more polluted. If one looks beyond skewed statistics, our forest cover continues to shrink. Groundwater levels fall every year, and what water there is, highly polluted in many areas with arsenic, nitrates and fluorides. Taking Delhi as an illustration, of its 611 water bodies, 274 are dry; 190 of these have been lost forever. Many of the rest are in a highly degraded condition. Our polluted air continues to be a major factor in premature deaths. Our urban and semi-urban landscapes are threatened by plastic waste. But we continue our activities, as if oblivious to this damage to our natural habitat.

Except for a small proportion of firms in this country, we landscape architects also seem to be continuing with a business-as-usual approach to our work. The approaches to many of our projects often resemble pattern-making activities on the land. Our colleges continue to teach their architectural and landscape architectural courses, with a tipping of the hat to ecology and the environment, but with limited appreciation or concern about what is happening literally on the ground. The degraded state of much of India's natural resources means that generations of environmentalists, ecologists and landscape architects can be gainfully employed in ecological restoration work. To my mind, this is the most important work that a landscape architect in India can be involved in.

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