Meet our 2019 Speakers

We have an incredible line up of speakers for the 2019 International Invasive Weed Conference.

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2019 Session Chairs

Dr Sarah Webster

Head of Protected & Invasive Non-Native Species Policy Team, Defra
Chair for Session 1: Challenges

Sarah studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University and went on to do a PhD on aquatic plants at Reading University with the Freshwater Biological Association. She cut her teeth working for local Wildlife Trust and has since held a range of delivery, evidence, sponsorship and policy roles in Defra and previously Natural England. She is currently Head of the Protected and Invasive Non-native Species policy team in Defra. Outside work, she is a keen open water swimmer and kayaker.

 

Dr Karen Bacon

Lecturer in Plant Ecology, National University of Ireland, Galway
Chair for Session 2: Solutions

Dr Karen Bacon is a plant scientist with a broad range of interests including invasive species, plant–climate interactions and urban ecology. She holds degrees in Botany and Geology and a PhD in Plant Ecology & Palaeoecology from University College Dublin, Ireland. She has held lectureships in several UK and Irish universities including King’s College London and the University of Leeds. As of September 2019, she is a lecturer in Plant Ecology at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

 

Dr Lois Child - Loughborough University - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Dr Lois Child

Visiting Fellow, Loughborough University
Chair for Session 3: Developments

Dr Lois Child was first introduced to invasive weeds in 1990 as an undergraduate student at Loughborough University, with a particular interest in the ecology and distribution of Japanese knotweed (and its hybrids) and factors which affect control and management. Dr Childs’ research on this topic has resulted in a PhD, scientific publications and co-authorship of ‘The Japanese Knotweed Manual’.

The subject has gripped her throughout her career at the University, initially through ICOLE (International Centre for Landscape Ecology), then as Co-ordinator of the Centre for Environmental Studies and latterly as Project Manager in the School of Science. She has undertaken consultancy on a wide range of development sites and provided advice and guidelines for both governmental and non-governmental organisations. She is a founder member of the International EMAPi (Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions) conference, now in its 25th year and, having very recently taken retirement, is now a Visiting Fellow in the School of Science at Loughborough University.

 

Dr Olaf Booy - GBNNSS - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Dr Olaf Booy

NNSS
Chair for the Expert Question Time

Olaf is Technical Coordinator and Deputy Chief Non-native Species Officer for the GB Non-native Species Secretariat (GBNNSS). As part of this small team he helps to coordinate action on invasive non-native species across Britain, on behalf of a Programme Board chaired by Defra and comprising officials from England, Scotland and Wales. Among his roles Olaf manages the GB non-native species risk analysis mechanism, develops and coordinates contingency responses for new species in GB and contributes to the EU’s Scientific Forum, established to support the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation. Before his role in the GBNNSS, Olaf worked on invasive plants including Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed and is co-author of the ‘Field Guide to Invasive Non-native Plants and Animals in Britain’.

 

 

Conference Speakers

Professor Max Wade

Technical Director (Ecology), AECOM
What’s Europe Ever Done for Us?

Max is known nationally and internationally for his work in ecological appraisals and management, especially in aquatic systems and the invasion of non-native plants and animals. He has authored a number of manuals and field guides and advises on the assessment of ecological function and gain in the urban environment. Max was Professor of Ecology and Head of the Environmental Sciences Department, University of Hertfordshire. He is currently the President of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.

 

Professor Joe Caffrey

Director, INVAS Biosecurity Ltd
Invasive Weed Management in Ireland: Current Challenges

Joe worked as a Senior Scientist with Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) for 39 years. Here, he headed up the Invasive Species Section, which researched and developed control methods for invasive alien species, some of which have received worldwide application. Joe has project-led many national and international research/management projects dealing with invasive species and has been directly involved with the development of national and EU legislation relating to these species. He has written in excess of 120 peer reviewed scientific and management papers for national and international journals.

In 2015 Joe joined INVAS Biosecurity Ltd as a Director, where he is continuing his work with invasive species. This Company provides a professional contracting and consultancy service, based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence, which targets invasive species in aquatic and terrestrial situations.

 

Gavin Coe - RSC - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Gavin Coe

Contracts Manager, River Stewardship Company (RSC)
Yorkshire Invasive Weed Programme

Gavin has 14 years’ experience working within the Arboriculture & Forestry sector from working on the tools, through to the management of multiple sites across a large geographical area. Gavin is an experienced contracts manager covering all aspects of work within the environmental sector. During his time at River Stewardship Company he has been working closely with the Environment Agency delivering framework and partnership projects.

 

Robert Stevens - Nationwide - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Robert Stevens

Head of Property Risk Operations, Data and Strategy, Nationwide
Update on Parliamentary Select Committee, Science & Technology

Robert Stevens has a 17-year career spanning financial services at Portman and Nationwide Building Society. Rob’s focus is to challenge the status quo to improve the customer journey and drive business success through proactive risk management and innovation. His key area of interest has always been the mortgage and property market, with a vision to change the way we transact and take the pain out of buying and selling.

During his career, he has specialised in mortgage policy, regulation, underwriting, conveyancing and valuations. In 2013 he founded the Property Risk department at Nationwide, aiming to provide a sustainable valuation solution for the future. This work has included the introduction of PRIM, the insourcing of panel management for Nationwide and TMW. His greatest vision was the Property Risk Hub which incorporates the intelligent use of data to link together the underwriting, conveyancing and valuation processes. The aim is to remove duplication and provide more certainty to customers. This allows Nationwide to provide an instant property assessment, enabling their members to obtain a faster lending decision and in some cases, an instant lending decision.

 

Kate Pollard - CABI - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Kate Pollard

Scientific Researcher, CABI
Biological Control of Himalayan Balsam

Kate Pollard has worked as a research scientist at CABI as part of the Invasive Species Management team for the past eight years. As a plant pathologist, her work focuses on the use of fungal pathogens for the biological control of non-native weeds for both the UK and abroad. With particular reference to the UK, Kate is involved with the assessment and field releases of a rust fungus for control of Himalayan balsam.

 

Dr Oliver Pescott - CEH - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Dr Oliver Pescott

Botanist & Plant Ecologist, CEH
Accurate Risk mapping and Image Classification for Japanese knotweed: What have the Machines Learned?

Oli is a plant ecologist and analyst at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. In his role he works closely with the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) and the British Bryological Society to promote the use of their data for ecology and conservation. He also helps to run the National Plant Monitoring Scheme with BSBI, Plantlife, and the JNCC.

 

 

Helga Heylen - Conservation Dogs Ireland - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Helga Heylen

Managing Director, Conservation Dogs Ireland
Work Like a Dog: Sniffing out Japanese knotweed

A Belgian native living in Ireland, Helga has 20+ years experience in business and psychology. Dog and nature crazy, she adapted New Zealand’s trailblazing government-funded model of using detection dogs in conservation to locate invasive weeds and tree disease faster and more accurately than any traditional method. Only in its 1st year, Conservation Dogs Ireland won 1st prize at the international conference Neobiota 2018 ‘New Directions In Invasion Biology’. Will work for chocolate treats and praise.

 

Dr Dan Jones - Advanced Invasives, Swansea University - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Dr Dan Jones

Honorary Researcher, Swansea University
Application Methods for Successful Japanese knotweed Control

Dr Dan Jones is an Honorary Researcher at Swansea University’s Department of Biosciences and Managing Director of Advanced Invasives, a consultancy founded to bring evidence-led thinking to the commercial management of invasive plant species. Dan specialises in the detection, mapping and sustainable control of invasive alien plant species and current work addresses habitat restoration, invasive plant ecology and ecophysiology.

 

Kay Pemberton - Japanese Knotweed Ltd - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Kay Pemberton

Marketing & Business Development Manager, Japanese Knotweed Ltd
Profiling our Businesses: Is There Growth in Japanese knotweed

Kay has worked for Japanese Knotweed Ltd since 2016, focusing on marketing and more recently business development. Japanese Knotweed Ltd (JKL) has become an established leading contractor through the vision and dedication of its staff, a focus on customer care and provision of services to meet the needs of its customers. JKL understand risks caused by invasive plants; they assess the site or property and develop and deliver remedial solutions for homeowners, businesses, land owners and developers throughout the UK.

 

Dr Peter Fitzsimons - PCA - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Dr Peter Fitzsimons

Technical Manager, Invasive Weeds – PCA
Training: What’s Next?

Peter joined the PCA as Technical Manager for the Invasive Weed sector in April 2018. After studying Botany at University College London, Peter spent his pre-Doc and post-Doc years in research labs in Dundee and Nottingham working on various aspects of plant cell growth regulation, eventually working on industry-funded herbicide projects.

His interest in biocides took him in to the world of remedial wood preservatives/damp proofing etc. at The Wykamol Group where he spent 20 years as Technical Manager/Director. About 10 years ago, his particular interest in industrial wood preservation lead him to join first BASF then Rütgers Organics GmbH giving him a broader insight in to European biocide markets. Peter is delighted to be joining the PCA, eager to meet old friends and make many new ones, particularly in the Invasive Weed Control Group, and is very much looking forward to working alongside Steve and all the PCA team to deliver excellent member benefits.

 

Donna Dewberry - Charles Lyndon - 2019 International Invasive Weed ConferenceDonna Dewberry

Senior Associate, Charles Lyndon Ltd
Legal Update

Donna joined the team at Charles Lyndon Ltd just over two years ago and specialises in claims relating to Japanese Knotweed. Claims can originate from misrepresentations made by sellers at the time of sale, from professional negligence where knotweed is not detected during a survey that should have been, or from encroachment from neighbouring land.

 

 

Expert Question Time

What good has research ever done for Japanese knotweed?

Dr Wayne Dawson

Associate Professor, University of Durham

Wayne Dawson is a plant ecologist, with a longstanding research focus on the ecology of plant invasions at global, community and individual plant scales. Wayne has a particular interest in understanding the roles that interactions between invasive plants and other organisms play in driving invasions and their impacts.

 

 

Dr Paul Beckett

Co-owner & Director, Phlorum

Paul is a founding Director of Phlorum. He was part of the working groups that established the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group and produced the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors information note on surveying Japanese knotweed for residential property risk. He currently sits on the PCA Technical Panel as a knotweed expert.

His academic background is in plant ecophysiology and he has published numerous research papers in this area. He continues to supervise PhD research studentships on Japanese knotweed at various universities. He is regularly appointed as an expert witness on cases involving Japanese knotweed and property risk. This has included several recent high-profile cases that have been widely reported in the press.

 

Dr Dan Jones - Advanced Invasives, Swansea University - International Invasive Weed Conference 2019Dr Dan Jones

Honorary researcher, Swansea University

Dr Dan Jones is an Honorary Researcher at Swansea University’s Department of Biosciences and Managing Director of Advanced Invasives, a consultancy founded to bring evidence-led thinking to the commercial management of invasive plant species. Dan specialises in the detection, mapping and sustainable control of invasive alien plant species and current work addresses habitat restoration, invasive plant ecology and ecophysiology.

 

Dr Karen Bacon

Lecturer in Plant Ecology, National University of Ireland, Galway

Dr Karen Bacon is a plant scientist with a broad range of interests including invasive species, plant–climate interactions and urban ecology. She holds degrees in Botany and Geology and a PhD in Plant Ecology & Palaeoecology from University College Dublin, Ireland. She has held lectureships in several UK and Irish universities including King’s College London and the University of Leeds. As of September 2019, she is a lecturer in Plant Ecology at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

 

A Penny for your Thoughts

What good has research ever done for Japanese knotweed?

Trevor Renals

Senior Technical Advisor, Invasive Species, Environment Agency

Trevor Renals has been involved in weed management for 28 years. He instigated the Cornwall Knotweed Forum, an approach that inspired the current network of local action groups. He was the author of the Japanese knotweed code of practice, which provided an important regulatory platform for the knotweed management industry. Trevor participates in various national groups concerning invasive species management, including the GB biocontrol steering group and the UK Non-Native Species Programme Board. He is also coordinating the national eradication programmes for water primrose and various-leaved water milfoil.

 

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