A sustainable future in Scotland topped the agenda at the CPG meeting on Horticulture
1 November, 2023
Last night (Tuesday, 31 October), skills, education and biodiversity were key topics of conversation as the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) hosted the second successful meeting of the Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Horticulture, held at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. This gathering brought together diverse stakeholders, including government officials, industry representatives, and educational institutions, with a shared commitment to the growth and sustainability of the horticulture sector in Scotland.
One of the key agenda items was a substantial discussion on the importance of skills and education in horticulture. A presentation by Lantra highlighted the need to shout louder about how great the sector is, and they shed light on schools engaging with land-based education, featuring projects like Daydream Believers, Forestopia, and Solar Punk Island. These initiatives serve as valuable educational resources to inspire the next generation of horticultural enthusiasts.
Furthermore, the entire industry, including colleges, came together to address the pressing need for investment in and engagement with the next generation in horticulture. The industry's commitment to supporting schools and colleges and providing essential training to kickstart careers was a central focus of this discussion.
Biodiversity was another key discussion point. The CPG sought input on various biodiversity-related topics, including research, initiatives, and best practices. The open floor discussion emphasised the importance of nurturing biodiversity within the horticultural sector and broader environmental considerations.
Rachael Hamilton MSP, Convenor of the CPG on Gardening & Horticulture said:
“It was a pleasure to reconvene the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Gardening and Horticulture this week in Holyrood.
“It was fantastic to be able to discuss the challenges and opportunities within Scotland’s Horticulture sector with a group that is so passionate about this topic.
“Inspiring and training the next generation of Scottish horticulturalists is at the heart of what this group is trying to achieve. Our meeting provided a useful platform for us to discuss how we can support this.
“I was also pleased to have the opportunity to talk about how the sector supports Scotland’s Biodiversity and receive an update on the HTA’s Environmental Growth Strategy since it was launched earlier this year.”
Looking ahead, the CPG discussed future activities and focus areas. These include planning group visits to provide practical insights and the discussion of themes such as green living, climate change mitigation, and health and wellbeing.
The HTA further expressed its commitment to shaping the Environmental Horticulture Growth Strategy as a pivotal vision for the growth and sustainability of horticulture in Scotland. Scotland has over 1 million regular gardeners and millions more utilising green spaces. Moreover, horticulture and landscaping supported contributions of £2.8bn towards GDP and over 64,000 jobs in Scotland in 2019.
The HTA’s Growth Strategy has seven key ambitions for Scotland:
- Health – to create a healthier Scotland through horticulture
- Economy – develop green economic growth, high-quality jobs and invest in education/skills
- Environment – to mitigate climate change
- Local – increase the use of Scottish and UK-grown plants as import substitution
- Industry – drive Scottish growth through investment, development grants and reducing the cost of doing business
- Urban Nature – produce a greener planning system
- Biosecurity – enhance and protect Scotland’s natural capital.
The meeting also addressed other topics, including networking opportunities, peat, and plant health. These discussions reflect the comprehensive approach the CPG is taking to address the challenges and opportunities within the horticultural sector.
The meeting saw a good turnout, with representatives from various organisations and institutions, including the HTA, Lantra, universities, and botanical gardens. Their collective presence is a testament to the collaborative spirit that defines the CPG's mission, reflecting Scotland's unwavering dedication to a sustainable horticultural future.