News roundup, Summer 2016

Nicola Dempsey hosts Indian Summer School... Helen Woolley made Visiting Professor... Olaf Schroth talks fracking... Helen Hoyle on the wow factor of urban planting


Indian summer school students visit Department of Landscape

Nicola Dempsey with members of the Summer School

The Department of Landscape hosted a two-week summer school for students from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, India and Faculty of Management members. Dr Nicola Dempsey developed the summer school with Professor Manvita Baradi and Dr Mercy Samuel at CEPT which focused on green space management in India and the UK.

After a week exploring parks and gardens in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the students visited a range of sites in London and Sheffield to meet a number of decision-makers and practitioners. From the public sector, students met Peter Massini from the Greater London Authority who outlined the challenges of providing green infrastructure in an ever-urbanising London. From the private sector, students learnt about the Business Improvement District model from Valerie Beirne from Better Bankside and Shane Clarke from Team London Bridge and how businesses can be engaged in providing green infrastructure, from green roofs to pocket parks. Students visited a number of sites including Potters Field Park, Gibbon’s Rent and Crossbones Garden of Remembrance.

Simon Lewis, Landscape Manager at Grosvenor showed students around some of the private, gated green spaces in Mayfair and Belgravia to explore the green space design and management techniques used in some of the most expensive residential areas of the capital.

After a torrential downpour, students met at Russell Square to meet with Mark Walton at the social enterprise Shared Assets and Shirley Blake from Camden Borough Council who outlined some of their innovative ideas for managing green space at different scales.

In Sheffield, a highlight was the walk around Manor Fields Park with Brett Nuttall, Estate Manager at social enterprise Green Estate to explore the thinking behind the different landscape management approaches taken in the park and the wider area.

It was a jam-packed itinerary which included the Reflecting on the River workshop and ended with students presenting their management ideas for parks back in Ahmedabad to a CEPT-Sheffield panel of experts. It is hoped that this is the first summer school of many between the Department and CEPT.

Co-convenor of the summer school, Professor Manvita Baradi, CEPT said: “We are delighted with how our collaboration with the University of Sheffield is developing. We have been working with Nicola for some time now on research and we are very happy to share our teaching too”. Nicola will be back in Ahmedabad in January 2017 as dissertation supervisor of a cohort of CEPT Masters students.


Helen Woolley made Visiting Professor at Sichuan University, China

Helen Woolley being made a visiting professor

Helen Woolley has been made a Visiting Professor at Sichuan University College of Architecture and Environment.

The award ceremony took place at the end of the Children’s Outdoor Environments workshop attended by seven students form The Department of Landscape at The University of Sheffield together with students from the host university and two universities in Japan.

Helen commented: "I am delighted to be awarded the honour of being a Visiting Professor at Sichuan University in China. This will provide a formal mechanism for us to continue the discussions and exchange about research that have already begun. I have already started to work with Xia Wang on the subject of Children’s Outdoor Environments and in my meeting with Professor Tang we discussed other options which may be possible. This is an exciting opportunity to continue the exchange of knowledge, ideas and concepts that has started through my participation in the Sichuan University Immersion Programme in 2015 and 2016."

This work will continue to be consolidated in early September when Helen and Xia will co-chair the workshop about Children’s Outdoor Environments in Chinese Cities at the Urban Transitions Global Summit. The summit is being organised by the publisher Elsevier and will take place in Shanghai from 5-9 September. The workshop will include contributions from different cities including Chengdu, Shanghai, Changsha and Wuhan. Some of the participants are alumni of The Department of Landscape while others are from Chinese universities including Sichuan, Hunan and Tongji, together with some Chinese practitioners.

The workshop at this Urban Transitions Global Summit will be one step on the way to placing children’s outdoor environments within the context of increasingly urbanising cities in China.


Dr Olaf Schroth discusses the visual impacts of fracking

Light pollution night time simulation

Dr Olaf Schroth spoke to representatives from the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and the Campaign for Protecting Rural England (CPRE) about the landscape and visual impacts of hydraulic fracturing – more commonly referred to as fracking.

The well-attended presentation highlighted the potential visual impacts of proposed fracking sites around Yorkshire and Lancashire and was informed by both Dr Schroth’s research as well as student work from the Department of Landcape.

Dr Schroth presented a comparison of hydraulic fracturing – fracking - between the US and UK, which was based on his research with visiting professor Brian Orland from PennState in 2015.

After an introduction into the technical and economical characteristics of fracking, he showed photos of different stages during the life cycle of exploratory well pads in the UK. He then presented the results of the potential landscape and visual impacts of fracking in Lancashire (between Blackpool and Preston), if its exploitation was expanded to the maximum possible scale.

He also showed a map of the newly auctioned licenses east of Sheffield and the location of two currently proposed exploratory wells in Nottinghamshire.

Dr Schroth said: “The presentation was well received and we had a very productive discussion afterwards.”


Dr Helen Hoyle highlights the wow factor in urban planting

nature connections conference

Dr Helen Hoyle presented a paper, 'The 'wow factor', well-being and biodiversity: Squaring the circle in designed urban planting', at the Nature Connections conference in Derby.

The paper focused on the relationships between aesthetic perception and preference, self-reported restoration and perceived biodiversity for people walking through areas of designed woodland, shrub and herbaceous planting of varying structure and species-character in relation to the semi- natural vegetation of the UK .

The research involved questionnaires conducted with1428 members of the public who walked through areas of planting, followed semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 34 of the original questionnaire participants.

Dr Hoyle said: "findings indicated positive correlations between perceived attractiveness and perceived biodiversity for three out of four biodiversity indicators, as well as a weak correlation between perceived attractiveness and self- reported restoration. Colourful flowering planting was associated with the highest levels of perceived attractiveness, whereas restoration was more likely to be afforded by more subtle green ‘background’ planting. Planting with a moderately natural structure was also associated with the highest levels of restoration."