The international launch of the Landscape Institute’s #ChooseLandscape careers campaign took place at the IFLA World Congress 2018 in Singapore. Inspired by LI President Adam White’s presentation, Lee Parks (Chartered Landscape Architect and Director of Landscape at AECOM) has been spreading word of the campaign across Shanghai, China.

Here, Lee tells us how he’s been using our campaign to engage with kindergardens, schools, universities and professional forums to promote the range of career choices and opportunities available in the landscape sector.

With China’s commitment to addressing and mitigating climate change, reversing environmental damage, boosting public infrastructure and its continuous urbanisation drive, there are so many opportunities for landscape professionals to make a real difference to China’s future.

I’m a founding member of the Shanghai Landscape Forum, which brings together leading Landscape Architecture firms practicing in China. I’ve showcased the #ChooseLandscape campaign video at many professional forums, with themes ranging from Ecological Restoration to Cultural Heritage, and it’s a great way to engage audiences and remind ourselves why this profession is so important.

The campaign has really inspired university students, and has reemphasised the wide-ranging opportunities available within the profession, and how landscape impacts people’s lives, shaping our environment, communities and cities.

It’s also a great way to engage with the next generation, and with schools and kindergardens, this usually extends to drawing and brainstorming ideas. I ask children what they would do if they could be the decision makers, the planners, the designers or the managers. Young people are incredible aware of climate change, and what is happening to the state of forests, rivers and wildlife in Chinese Cities.

They want cleaner air and water, greener space, more sports and play – and some just want more ice-cream parlours! But they love seeing the use of the technology in the campaign video, and are wowed by the scenes of fun spaces to ‘hang out’.

In recent years, China has seen a surge of returning graduates from overseas Masters Courses in Landscape, but the challenge for firms like AECOM is keeping early professionals committed to a long-term career. Many are tempted to work for state-owned companies or private real estate, due to more attractive salaries and more central office locations than many planning and design firms can offer.

So it’s important to continue inspiring people about the work landscape professionals can be a part of, as China has a long way to go to restore its ecological infrastructure, enhance communities and create liveable cities.

The #Chooselandscape career campaign has been a great way to connect people and share ideas of how a career in landscape can transform places, protect nature and mitigate climate change.