Ethics in Landscape Architecture

Ethics are integral to the successful functioning of a civil society. Ethics govern an individual or population’s behavior and are an extension of the culture’s (or individual’s) morals. As a person, it is important to adhere to the ethics of the culture so that one can be an engaged member and participant in society. As a professional, it is important to understand and adhere to any additional codes of ethics related to the discipline so that standards and expectations of behavior are universally respected by all members of the profession. A failure to adhere to the code of ethics or violations of the code of ethics may, in some cases, result in the stripping of one’s licence or ability to practice in their profession.

Two codes of ethics govern Landscape Architecture professionals and are handed down by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). These codes are the ASLA Code of Professional Ethics & the ASLA Code of Environmental Ethics.

The Code of Professional Ethics is divided into four parts: the preamble, professional responsibility, member responsibility, and the procedures for filing a complaint & how issues are resolved within the profession. The preamble introduces the code and states they come from ASLA as the governing body for our profession. Professional responsibilities outline the expectations of a landscape architect. Some of the items listed in the code include: recognizing all contributors of a project, conflict of interest, bribery, and looking out for the best interests of the client and the environment. Member responsibilities begin by stating that all members must adhere to the ASLA Code of Environmental Ethics and continue on to define the standards of behavior that are expected.

“The following tenets are the basis of the ASLA Code of Environmental Ethics:

  • The health and well-being of biological systems and their integrity are essential to sustain human well-being.

  • Future generations have a right to the same environmental assets and ecological aesthetics.

  • Long-term economic survival has a dependence upon the natural environment.

  • Environmental stewardship is essential to maintain a healthy environment and a quality of life for the earth.”

The combination of the Professional and Environmental Codes of Ethics govern how all Landscape Architects should behave and define the moral standards by which all decisions and actions are based. Adherence to the codes ensures we, as a profession, stay relevant and respected by allied professions, governing bodies, and the public.


  • zhanyu says:

    Very similar to ethics in professional engineering. Some commonalities include recognizing conflicts of interest, upholding the interest of the client, and protecting the health and well-being of people and biological systems. Likely there are more, since both professions have direct impacts on the people and environment, and need to be represented with honor and dignity.

  • Dalya Ismael says:

    Its interesting how different majors highlight different aspects in their codes of ethics. Thanks for sharing the ones in the ASLA Code. I am in the civil engineering department and one of our main codes of ethics is by the ASCE. This is the first one they list:

    “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development in the performance of their professional duties.”

    I find it important to exchange with people the various standards of ethics from different perspectives.

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