AIH elects new President who promises a fight to promote change through a better environment

The Australian Institute of Horticulture, the 62-year-old conservation body dedicated to improving Australia’s physical environment through the use of plants, has elected Alan Burnell RH (Registered Horticulturist) as the new National President.

Mr Burnell has been a qualified Horticulturist for over 45 years, starting his career as an apprentice in 1970 at Pikes Nursery in Sydney and attending Ryde School of Horticulture, studying in NZ and gaining a Diploma of Horticulture at Massey University.

In his first address to members, he began by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land and paying respects to their Elders past, present and future. He went on to urge the AIH to “join forces and get to work as Australia needs us more than ever now. If you’re up for the fight put up your hand and join us.”

He continued, saying, “My vision for AIH and the green industry that we are part of is to push the message of becoming one collective voice, which will involve collaboration and communication.”

“It’s our time. We, the Horticultural academics, through to the people that want to just get their hands dirty, want to help to put right and best repair our home, our land we call Australia. It’s time to listen to us!”

Mr Burnell pledged that AIH will continue the push for appropriate tree shading in city and suburban areas and work towards more recreational areas and interactive walkways that incorporate native plants that can be used by everyday Australians.

He also said he would create a more inclusive approach to Indigenous and regional areas across states and territories by finding local communities that have worked on creating innovative and community-minded green spaces and, where possible, reward their efforts with awards.

This will provide AIH with the opportunity to expand its reach and membership as well as spreading the campaign for natural solutions.

Mr Burnell said he had worked on some challenging but rewarding projects during his career.

“During my 52 years of being in the workforce I have been very fortunate in participating in some amazing green projects around the world, managing various nurseries around Australia, and spending four years with an international horticulture investment company based in Sydney from where I travelled overseas.”

But, he says, “My single biggest honour while wearing my MAIH RH 122 and under the conditions required by Brisbane City Council was to be engaged as an RH Consultant required to locate 120,000 plants covering 1,100 species for the new 4-hectare site over the

Legacy Way tunnel to be known as Queensland’s Indigenous Gardens as part of the Mount Coot-Tha Botanic Gardens redevelopment.”

Mr Burnell was AIH Vice President in 2018/19 when he addressed the Singapore NParks Conference on organic growing in confined spaces.

He believes the COVID lockdowns provided the AIH Australian Council an opportunity to reassess its vision and goals and rebuild its website enabling the AIH to spread its message through improved engagement with members and sponsors.

“Collectively we can be a very powerful voice for professional, qualified Horticulturists in Australia,” he said.

AIH wants to continue its drive in:

  • Environmental repair across Australia
  • Indigenous green spaces, including cultural and heritage sites
  • Therapeutic support through horticulture
  • Education in Horticulture – apprenticeships, TAFE Colleges, and Universities
  • Art and design in Horticulture to be showcased through our events
  • The living plant seen through the eyes of Nurseries & Landscapers
  • Native Habitat – what we need to plant to protect our wildlife
  • Continue spreading our AIH ethos through media, communication, publications, and events
  • Social sustainability within a greener environment and responsible Urban Greening