The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects’ (AILA) decision to declare a climate emergency was a hot topic at the sixth annual International Festival of Landscape Architecture (IFLA) last week.

The Festival welcomed professor of landscape architecture at Seoul National University, and chief advisor of parks and green space in Seoul Metropolitan Government, Kyung-Jin Zoh, as a keynote speaker. 

According to Zoh, South Korea is working tirelessly to combat the CO2 emission emergency the country is facing.

“Major industrial factories in East Asia have created a CO2 crisis that has spread across to South Korea and beyond,” he says.

“The Seoul Metropolitan Government has announced it will plant 15 million trees over the next three years, in addition to 15 million trees that have been planted between 2014-2018, to fight the worsening air pollution and urban heat.”

The addition of 30 million trees produces oxygen equivalent to the amount 21 million adults inhale per year.

“The CO2 emission crisis South Korea is facing is among the worst in the world, although that’s not to say Australia should rest easy. Prevention measures are a crucial part of creating a pollution-free environment,” says Zoh.

Professor Zoh has warned Australia of the CO2 emissions risk it faces and is encouraging landscape architects and the Federal Government to implement tree-planting initiatives in order to get on the front foot.

“South Korea is now having to manage an extremely complex climate issue, which certainly could have been prevented if we had implemented these measures sooner.”

AILA’s declaration of Australia’s climate emergency precedes a similar declaration by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), that declared a climate and biodiversity loss emergency in September.

“Climate change is an issue which will have a substantial effect on the way we design, build and inhabit spaces in our cities and communities,” says AILA CEO Tim Arnold.

“Professionals need to be having these conversations, and contributing to community debate, so that we can find practical solutions to avert a climate disaster.”