HTA Environmental Horticulture Manifesto

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has officially released its Environmental Horticulture Manifesto, outlining ten key priorities for a future UK Government.

Sheffield from above by drone
Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash

The manifesto underscores the significance of green spaces, plant health, and sustainable practices, aiming to position the UK as a global leader in environmental horticulture.

The manifesto draws on recent YouGov poll data conducted on behalf of the HTA in December 2023, involving Members of Parliament. The results reveal that a majority of MPs, 53%, support the creation of a cross-government Office for Green Spaces, the HTA’s lead policy ask. Notably, this proposal garnered support from MPs across various parties.

Key insights from the survey also indicate that MPs acknowledge the substantial benefits of the environmental horticultural industry in areas such as Jobs and Skills (82%), the Nation’s Health and Wellbeing (80%), the Economy (72%), and the Environment and Biodiversity (76%). With political parties currently writing their own manifestos ahead of the General Election later this year, the HTA believe that utilising the value of plants is a key policy solution in areas such as the environment, health, skills, jobs and the economy.

The HTA’s ten policy asks are under the themes:

  • Maximise the Value of Green Spaces
  • Urban Greening Programme
  • International Trade Cooperation
  • World-Class Plant Health Regime
  • Transition to Peat-Free Horticulture
  • Green Jobs and Skills Recognition
  • Water Sector Strategy
  • Regulatory Proportionality
  • UK Public Procurement Rules
  • Global Leadership Through R&D Support

HTA Chief Executive Fran Barnes said: “This manifesto marks a pivotal moment for the future of environmental horticulture. With the right support and policies in place, the UK horticultural sector has the potential to emerge as a global leader in sustainable practices and deliver green growth, ensuring that future generations can benefit from the original green industry.

“We strongly urge policymakers and prospective parliamentarians to seize these opportunities and recognise the value of our sector. If we look at one area of our industry, domestic gardens, we know that these comprise 29.5% of the UK’s urban space. In England alone, this garden area surpasses our National Nature Reserves by more than four and a half times. This substantial resource is significant for the environment and wildlife, providing a habitat for thousands of generalist species that thrive in these spaces. We also have 30 million regular gardening enthusiasts, and almost two-thirds (62%) of UK adults have a garden/outdoor space, which they report using to cultivate plants, trees, or flowers[i]. This means gardeners in every UK parliamentary constituency who hugely value the UK’s green spaces.

“Supporting this growing nation of gardeners not only fuels local and national growth across the UK, but it is also a solution to adapting to our changing climate – aligning with 7 of the 10 Environmental Improvement Plan goals. Furthermore, environmental horticulture contributes to the well-established mental and physical benefits derived from spending time in nature-based spaces.”