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Landscape Architects Profession

Central Park, in New York, is probably the world’s most famous city park. It is also one of the biggest, measuring 4 kilometres long and nearly 1 kilometre across at its widest. It attracts nearly 40 million visitors every year and is one of the most filmed locations in the world.1 Well, it didn’t just happen. It was, largely speaking, the creation of two garden designers in 1858 – someone who we would now call landscape architects.

Of course, in general terms, landscape architecture is the design of outdoor public areas, landmarks and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioural, or aesthetic outcomes, but the scope of their expertise is far more than that would suggest. Indeed, their input in today’s climate and health-conscious world is particularly significant.

Landscape architecture, for example, restores endangered wetlands, reduces hospital stays, and removes toxins from rainwater. Practitioners use natural systems of plants, fungi, or soil microbes to transform formerly polluted industrial sites into a safe and valuable public green space. Instead of a black tar roof, a living system of plants and soil can significantly reduce air temperature in the summer, save winter heating costs, clean and store rainwater, and provide habitat to pollinating insects and birds. Moreover, landscape architects can utilise trees, shrubs and other plants also to lower a home’s heating/cooling costs – as much as 50% in the summer and up to 8% in the winter.2

In South Africa, the Landscapes Architectural Profession Act 20003 provides for the registration and regulation of landscape architects. The Act is effectively administrated through the South African Council for the Landscape Architectural Profession.4

A. Registration

In the field (no pun intended) of landscape architects there are, broadly speaking, two different categories: professionals and candidates. There are also architects, technologists, technicians and assistants.

So, you can have permutations of these – a ‘candidate landscape architect’, a ‘professional landscape technician’ and so on. These are all authorised titles, and the categories have differing standards and natures of qualification.

To practice, you must be registered with the Council.5

  1. It is an offence to practise in one of these categories if you are not registered in that category.6

  2. Any person (or association) whose registration has, for whatever reason, been cancelled must return his registration certificate to the Registrar of the Council within 30 days, and it is an offence not to do so.7

B. The Council

  1. One of the obligations of the Council is to submit its audited statements, and balance sheet, to the Minister of Public Works (as well as to the Council for the Built Environment) within six months after the close of the financial year. It is an offence to fail to do so.8

C. Disciplinary hearings

If a complaint is lodged against any registered person, the Council must refer it to an investigating committee. If, thereafter, it appears that grounds exist for a charge of improper conduct to be made against the person, a disciplinary tribunal is convened.

  1. Any person subpoenaed to the hearing as a witness commits an offence if:
    • he fails to attend without sufficient cause;9
    • he refuses to be sworn in or affirmed as a witness;10
    • he fails to answer questions lawfully put to him fully and satisfactorily without sufficient cause;11
    • he fails to produce any book, document or thing as required;12 or
    • he fails to remain in attendance until excused.13
  2. It is an offence to give false evidence.14 It is also an offence to prevent another person from complying with a subpoena, or from giving evidence, or from producing any book, document or thing.15
  1. Wikipedia – ‘Central Park’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Park

  2. www.asla.org/design/index. This is the website of the American Society of Landscape Architects. 

  3. Act 45 of 2000. 

  4. Its offices are at 4 Karen Street, Bryanston West, Gauteng; see www.saclap.org.za

  5. The South African Council for the Landscape Architectural Profession. It is based at 4 Karen Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg. 

  6. Section 41(1) read with section 18(2). 

  7. Section 41(1) read with section 23; section 25(8). 

  8. Section 41(2) read with section 15(8). 

  9. Section 41(1) read with section 31(8)(a)(i). 

  10. Section 41(1) read with section 31(8)(a)(ii). 

  11. Section 41(1) read with section 31(8)(a)(iii). 

  12. Section 41(1) read with section 31(8)(a)(iv). 

  13. Section 41(1) read with section 31(8)(b). 

  14. Section 41(1) read with section 31(8)(a)(e). 

  15. Section 41(1) read with section 31(8)(f).