The 2015 IFLA Asia Pacific Region Council meeting took place in conjunction with the Asia Pacific Region Congress in Lombok, Indonesia. Hosted by the Indonesian Society of Landscape Architects. It was with great honour that the Congress was attended by IFLA President Dr Kathryn Moore, pictured here with newly elected President of APR Damian Tang.
Indonesia is a meeting point of several tectonic plates and is therefore one of the most seismically active areas on the planet with a long history of powerful eruptions and earthquake. Like the vast majority of member organizations of the Asia Pacific region (including ourselves), Indonesia lies on the Ring of Fire which is prone to volcano disasters and the theme of the Congress held in Mataram, Lombok of Future Mountain and Volcanoscape was therefore most appropriate.
The Congress was held in conjunction with a celebration of the 200 year anniversary of the largest volcanic eruption recorded in modern history, the eruption of Mount Tambora in the year 1815. This eruption created new landscapes, buried three kingdoms, killed about 17.000 people, and produced global climate anomalies and triggered political change. This celebration highlighted the relevance of this topic for landscape architecture and the exploration of landscape change and how to plan for and manage natural disasters and the inherent impact they have on communities and landscapes.
Pictured below are members of the ISOLA Congress organising team and outgoing APR President Dato Ismail Ngah, IFLA President Kathryn Moore and incoming APR President Damian Tang.
A field visit to the active volcano Mount Rinjani was a highlight of the Congress, where the agricultural landscapes of the lower slopes of the mountain (growing rice, peanuts and soya bean) contrasted with the stunning natural forest landscapes of the Mountain.
The Indonesian’s have been living with active volcanoes throughout their history and some fascinating insights on how this relationship has shaped the community were evident throughout the Congress.
A visit to one of the last remaining traditional Sasak villages was a particularly relevant exploration of a long established cultural landscape. The Sasak people live mainly on the island of Lombok and there are about 3.6 million (forming about 85% of the population). The majority of Sasak are farmers and their traditional villages are formed from using the natural resources around them (rice husks mixed with clay and cow dung form a brilliantly hard construction material). Their houses rise in tiers up the hot bare hills of Lombok’s southern peninsula. The majority of the traditional houses in the more developed parts of the island are no longer used. However, in the southern part of the island they are still lived in and we were priviledged to be invited into and shown around one of these villages, which was home to 700 people living in 150 houses.
Villages are clustered on low escarpments to conserve arable land. A village is approached via a path leading to a narrow gateway, and the village rises to the crown of the hill with a few lateral paths and many labyrinth like trails accessing all the houses. Bonnet-rice barns known as lumbung are the most dramatic and impressive of the Sasak vernacular architecture. The structures specifically designed to protect the vitally important rice crop.
APR Council Meeting
The APR Council meeting meeting saw the handover between the outgoing Executive Committee and President and the welcome of the newly elected Executive Committee. Dato Ismail Ngah, the outgoing President of APR, has provided a great service to the Region for over 3 years and has put forward the Regions views during the strategic re-alignment of IFLA. Ismail, will continue to assist the region by Chairing the Advisory Group – a new regional initiative which aims to increase dialogue and involvement of Member organization Presidents with the APR. The newly elected President of APR is Damian Tang (SILA) who will work alongside his Executive consisting of Treasurer, Greg Grabasch (AILA) and Honorary Secretary, Renee Davies (NZILA).
Elections for Chairs of the APR Committees (which align with IFLA’s Committees) will be held shortly. These postions and the associated committees can be filled by non-delegate members of the regions member organisations.
At the APR meeting in Lombok, the APR council took the decision not to become a separate entity of IFLA as the implications behind such legal corporate formation under such law requires a different or a new set of constitution for the region to undertake and considerable financial responsibilities. Supporting a ‘one entity’ approach, the decision reflected the wishes amongst the APR Exco and Council members for IFLA to become a strong collaborative and inclusive global organization, a single, united, international organization (as stated in the by laws approved in Buenos Airies 2014).
It was understood that several years ago the impetus for decentralization came at a time when IFLA was far more wealthy and before the global financial crisis. Times have changed. Governments and institutions around the world are now becoming out of necessity, more streamlined and centralised in order to work more efficiently and effectively. IFLA-APR will maintain their separate bank account, however IFLA-APR will be required to align their strategic plan to IFLA’s as we strive together to build a collaborative and inclusive leadership model and ultimately a more effective globally recognised organization.
IFLA-APR will essentially run as a ‘branch’ of IFLA which allows them under the Not for Profits (NPO) to maintain their separate bank account (already established) and if required in the future have an office address but does not require a separate legal identity (APR will be an extension of the parent company IFLA and therefore adhere to IFLA’s Strategic Plan and associated companies documentation). APR will continue to work on activities that build the profile of the Asia Pacific Region (eg. APR Awards, Website, Sponsorship, Congresses) but these will be aligned with IFLA’s strategic plan and resources (including the website) and will strive to increase IFLA capacity and resources as a whole. The points of difference will be for specific regional approaches and resourcing. IFLA APR will ensure high quality communication and engagement within the Region for both regional and global activities.
A range of other topics were also discussed, including the newly branded APR Awards, which will be advertised soon for entries with announcements next year.
A full account of all decisions and discussions from the meeting will be available shortly on the IFLA-APR website as part of the meeting minutes and a range of photos and summary of the Congress will be on the website also.
The 2016 IFLA-APR Congress will be held in conjunction with the 50 year celebrations of the AILA in Canberra in October 2016 (27th – 29th). This is gearing up to be a fantastic celebration of landscape architecture with Richard Weller being announced in Lombok as the creative director for the 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture in Canberra. Australian-born Weller is the Professor and Chair of landscape architecture at The University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (USA).
Mark your diaries now and take this opportunity to attend a nearby IFLA-APR congress that has a Festival program designed to educate, inspire and engage landscape architects, students, universities, government, the community and the public. Events for the 2016 Festival of Landscape Architecture in Festival in Canberra will be wide ranging and include a Research Summit, Student Charrette, Welcome Reception, a two-day IFLA Asia-Pacific Regional Congress, the AILA National Awards Gala Dinner, public talks, tours and exhibitions. It expects to attract 500 delegates from Australia and the Asia-Pacific.