Back to basics - this was the clear message emerging from a panel discussion on amenity management, held at Saltex recently, and chaired by John Moverley from the Amenity Forum.
Whilst plant protection products continue to have a clear and vital role in managing pests, weeds and diseases, the need to take an integrated approach to the management of amenity spaces is equally important. The emphasis must be on preventative actions, ensuring all aspects of soil management, seed selections, cultivations and appropriate on-going management routines are in place to minimise impact and ensure plant protection products, when applied, are targeted and have maximum impact.
The Amenity Forum has produced a guidance document to assist in producing integrated weed management plans (IWMs) across all areas of amenity, together with a template to help in their construction. A supporter, Parks for London, is also working with the Forum producing a document to help in constructing policy statements on IWM, especially useful for local authorities. The Forum, subject to funding, is additionally hoping in the next year to produce similar guidance for integrated disease management approaches.
The Forum has also worked closely with the sector to develop the Amenity Standard. This will be fully launched at the start of 2020 and is seen as a game changer for the sector. Those operating in amenity management at the Standard will demonstrate their professionalism and re-assure all involved that practices undertaken on that amenity space follow an integrated approach and meet all requirements on safety and good practice. The Amenity Standard is a bespoke quality management standard very much like the Red Tractor standard in food and agriculture. Those operating to the Standard will be members of an approved and audited assurance scheme recognised by the Standard.
The Amenity Standard is designed to:
• Provide an industry benchmark
• Provide a basis for continuous improvement
• Focus on quality as an objective
• Provide assurances about the quality of the approved organisation and maintenance of the amenity space
• Ensure that quality assurance scheme operators recognised under this Standard use auditors with technical knowledge and experience of the sector concerned
• Promote confidence in organisations operating and providing resources in the amenity sector by provision of a robust and transparent standard
John Moverley, Amenity Forum Chairman, said ''the management of our amenity areas is essential and important and impacts on every UK citizen every day. The Amenity Forum promotes best practice and organisations who support this are committed to the highest professional standards seeking to produce safe, healthy spaces fit for purpose. Taking integrated approaches to amenity management should be the norm and, for those concerned with or employing operators for amenity management, I would urge you seek those signed up to the Amenity Forum aims and objectives and following our code. The introduction of the Amenity Standard will further assist in this process and we seek to roll it out across all aspects of the sector going forward''