PAS volunteer, Alastair Smith, shares his thoughts on a recent volunteer training event on landscape assessment hosted by Doug Harman.

PAS volunteer, Alastair Smith

“As a new volunteer I have been looking out for the training courses put on by PAS and so was glad to hear that there was to be one such event in Glasgow on the 22nd of November (and not just because it’s close to where I live). The event was on landscape assessment and shaping places, a topic which I knew little about, but which sounded quite interesting and potentially useful.

The event was hosted by Doug Harman, and focused on how landscape architects, like himself, analyse different landscapes to inform the planning and management of change. Doug explained the basic principles of how to assess the character of a landscape, from generic evaluations such as river valley, to more in depth analyses on the uniqueness of these areas. Fundamentally, this analysis is designed to better inform the strategic planning process.

The night was also quite interactive with regular group tasks and discussions to break up the presentation and allow everyone to try different types of landscape assessment. One of my favourite bits of the night was assessing the impact of wind turbines on different landscapes, although I clearly need more work on this and I think the rest of the room was glad I am not in charge of where windfarms are located!

Throughout the night everyone chipped in with their own thoughts and experiences and there were some great discussions had. For instance, it was suggested that certain types of landscape assessment may lead to undesirable land being further diminished and have potential negative effects on poorer demographics likely to inhabit this type of land. It was agreed that this was a valid concern which required addressing at policy level.

Overall the night was good fun and very interesting. It’s great to leave nights like this feeling that you’ve genuinely learned something new and I would like to thank Doug Harman and PAS for staging this event.”

Find out more about volunteering with PAS.