The Hare, the Tortoise, and the Trojan Mouse. Raising the bar for progressive landscape change.

Authors and Affiliations: 

Richard Scott.

Landlife, The National Wildflower Centre, Liverpool. L16 3NA



Landlife founded one of the  UK’s first Urban Wildlife groups in 1975, and wrote the first urban conservation strategy for Liverpool in 1983. In 2001 Landlife opened the National Wildflower Centre, in Knowsley on the edge of Liverpool, one of a very few landmark Millennium Projects with an environmental theme.

Landlife’s experience as a pioneer in creative conservation has provided many examples of what is possible, often in unlikely places. Landlife has always been about the challenge of bringing ecology into the city and involving people in the process; but increasingly these creative and innovative solutions to low cost ecological landscaping are proving equally appropriate to the landscape writ large; as the decline in biodiversity continues despite 50 plus years of conservation effort. The work also demonstrates the necessity of public awareness raising to stimulate activity beyond small conservation sites and academic circles.Over the last ten years Landlife has researched and practised a new way of planting trees and wildflowers together using a new soil inversion technique, which brings major biodiversity impacts and community celebration to new tree plantings and demonstrated this so far 267 hectares at various locations across the UK.

This presentation will explain the evolution of of Landlife’s work, from street corners to rural landscapes, and make clear how a single small organisation has delivered practical and large scale landscape change across the United Kingdom and indeed inspired similar styles of project working overseas. It has proven this can be done at cost many times less than traditional landscape practice.  As a refreshing contrast to bureacratic policy shifts,  which consistently re-invents conservation priorities , and operates under a changing language and terminology, Landlife’s work is an example of a kind of ratchet effect, which amongst other things has established a National visitor centre in Knowsley and is  linked to a Merseyside based wildflower seed industry.

Landlife was responsible for the Society for Ecological Restoration bringing its International Conference outside North America for the first time, and contributed to the Society for Ecological Restorations  sympossium and submission to the EU  Commission on green infrastructure at the Ceske Budejovice in 2012. At a time of recession when the environment always slides down the scale of government priorities, it is a certainty and priority that ecology must more actively engage with society, and do so in more creative ways, otherwise projects will happen even at a landscape scale, without really being noticed. Landlife’s project work has been cited as inspiration for projects in Europe, Central America, and more recently China. Creative landscape solutions for conservation originate in urban areas and their lessons should be taken seriously in European landscape scenarios , in terms of imagination, cost, benefit and impact.


Luscombe G. &  Scott R. (2011) Creative Conservation:  In The Routledge Handbook of Urban Ecology ed. Douglas I, Goode D, Houck M & Wang R. Routledge, London.

Luscombe G. &  Scott R.(2004) Wildflowers Work. Landlife, Liverpool

Luscombe G. Scott R. & Young D (2008) Soil Inversion Works.Landlife, Liverpool