International Invasive Weed Conference 2017


Management – Understanding – A Look to the Future


Session Chairs

Ben Aston, Yorkshire Water

Lead Advisor for Biodiversity & Ecology

Chair for Session 1: Management

Since 2015 Ben has been Yorkshire Water’s Lead Adviser for biodiversity and ecology, being responsible for managing wildlife enhancement projects, invasive species and protected species across a 70,000 acre estate. Prior to this he spent 8 years with Arup as a Senior Scientist managing ecological risk on development and infrastructure projects. Ben is also a Chartered Geographer and Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society as well as a full Member of CIEEM.

Ben has long had an interest in invasive species after experiencing the impact of water hyacinth on large Mexican lake ecosystems during his PhD research. His work is now focused on both dealing with the strategic risk to Yorkshire Water’s operations posed by species such as floating pennywort and zebra mussel, through to working with contractors and NGOs to manage riparian species on the estate and along Yorkshire’s rivers.

Ben sits on the Check Clean Dry Initiative Steering Group, is a convenor of the Water UK Invasive Species network and is heavily involved with INNS Local Action Groups across Yorkshire Water’s operational area.


Dr Mark FennellDr Mark Fennell

Environmental Consultant, AECOM

Chair of Session 2: Understanding

Mark Fennell is an Environmental Consultant at AECOM where he leads the invasive species management team for the southeast of England. He has undertaken numerous invasive species management and biosecurity projects across a range of sectors, private and public, varying in scale from single residential properties to land assents with over 4,000 individual sites.

Prior to becoming an Environmental Consultant, he was involved in INNS research. Research topics primarily focused on the factors contributing to invasive success, modelling invasion pathways and determining climate change effects on plant invasions. Much of his research is published and has included collaborative studies with researchers in continental Europe, New Zealand, the Azores and Chile.


Robert MitchellRobert Mitchell

Director, Conservation Land Services

Chair of Session 3: A Look to the Future

Robert is Director of Conservation Land Services Ltd, a member of the PCA Invasive Weed Control Group. The main focus of their work tends to be on the commercial side, working with large scale housing developers, with whom Robert has developed invasive weed talks and advice sheets for site managers.

Robert is very keen to promote a wider awareness and approach to invasive weeds, such as Buddleia and Giant Hogweed, not just Japanese Knotweed and bio-security controls. At Contamination Expo 2017 Robert delivered two presentations on this topic as part of this work.

In a previous life Robert was involved in ecology and protected species work as well as having been a prison chaplain!



Dr Neil StrongNeil Strong

Environment Manager, Network Rail

“Management of buddleia on the operational railway”

Dr Neil Strong studied forestry and ecology as an undergraduate (Edinburgh) and a post-graduate (Portsmouth). He provides Network Rail expertise and support on aspects of the lineside asset including the management of vegetation and the impact on biodiversity; he has developed company standards on vegetation and fencing.

His current focus is the sustainable management of the lineside necessary to improve the safety and biodiversity of the rail network. This management has to balance legal, environmental and social obligations whilst also recognising the impact it can have on the 7 million railway neighbours – all whilst trains pass at up to 200kph.


Alex BrookAlex Brook

Senior Contracts Manager (Invasives), Ebsford International Ltd

“Invasive non-native aquatic weeds: an often underestimated problem”

Since joining Ebsford in September 2015 Alex has been involved in surveying and managing invasive non-native weed species in aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Prior to this he worked as a research ecologist at both the University of Reading and then CABI, where he was the project manager for the first European release of a classical insect biological control agent: the Japanese knotweed psyllid Aphalara itadori.


Tom RobinsonTom Robinson

Tom Robinson Sprays

“Investigation into the Performance of Different Spray Nozzles Used for Controlling Japanese knotweed”

Tom has been an enormous influence on spray operators, the agrochemical industry and on the development of nozzle technology over the last 10 years.

His support of research projects has resulted in significant improvements in knowledge about a wide range of research areas relating to agricultural engineering, including precision agriculture and pesticide application. His influence is difficult to quantify, but it is unusual to come across a sprayer operator who has not heard of Tom Robinson!


Dr Ken ThompsonDr Ken Thompson

Independent Research Fellow, University of Sheffield

“Propagules of invasive species – some biology”

Ken Thompson is a plant biologist with a keen interest in the public understanding of science, and especially the science of gardening. He writes and lectures extensively, including on Kew’s Horticulture Diploma, and has written seven books on gardening and popular science, including ‘Compost, No Nettles Required and Do We Need Pandas?’; ‘The Uncomfortable Truth About Biodiversity’. In 2014 he published ‘Where do Camels Belong? The Story and Science of Invasive Species.’ His latest book, containing his collected gardening columns from the Daily Telegraph, was published in 2015.

Ken lived and worked in Sheffield from 1990 to 2016; he recently moved to Devon. In 2016 he was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Veitch Memorial Medal for his contribution to the advancement and improvement of the science and practice of horticulture.


Dr Maria do Rosario Pereira FernandesDr Maria do Rosario Pereira Fernandes

Researcher, University of Lisbon

“Remote detection of giant reed invasions in riparian habitats: challenges and opportunities for management planning”

Dr Maria do Rosário Fernandes is a Post-doctoral grant holder at the Forest Research Centre, School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon. With a Forest Sciences graduation, she has a Master (2009) and a PhD (2013) in Forest Engineering and Natural Resources Management. Research activities have been mainly focused on the assessment of the riparian ecological condition using image-based methods, including the remote detection of alien invasive species in riparian corridors.

During her research she participated as a team member in a national R&D project: the “OASIS” project, PTDC/AAC-AMB/120197/2010, and three international (EU) projects: DURERO, Env.C1.3913442); “RICOVER” project, Interreg IV-B SUDOE and “Ripidurable: Gestion Durable de Ripisylves”, Interreg IIIC-SUD nº3S0125I mainly centered in applied issues related to the management of freshwater ecosystems and river restoration practices.


Jane BirchJane Birch

Biodiversity Technical Specialist, Environment Agency

“Impact of the invasive non-native species Hydrocotyle ranunculoides L.f (Floating Pennywort) on native macrophyte communities”

Prior to joining the Environment Agency, Jane spent twenty eight years in the horticultural industry with various roles in plant propagation and production, accounts management, Garden Centre management and responsibility for the administration of a business group of four enterprises. After leaving horticulture she was awarded a distinction for her MSc course in Plant Diversity at the University of Reading in 2009.

During her MSc study, Jane joined the Environment Agency part-time as a Fisheries & Biodiversity Technical Officer. In 2013 she became a Biodiversity Technical Specialist for the Solent and South Downs Area. Jane’s specialism is botany, in particular invasive species, and her macrophyte identification skills are recognised within and outside the EA. She is registered as a recorder for the Sussex Botanical Recording Society, tutor on identification courses for the EA and Natural England and has trained a number of EA staff in macrophyte identification and survey protocol. She is also a BASIS herbicide officer.

In 2013, Jane obtained joint sponsorship from the EA and Natural England to study the impact of the invasive non-native species Hydrocotyle ranunculoides L.f.(Floating Pennywort) on native macrophyte communities part time for a PhD. Some preliminary results of this study were presented at the 14th International Symposium of Aquatic Plants in September 2015.


Dr Uwe StarfingerDr Uwe Starfinger

Scientist & Invasive Plant Expert, Julius Kuhn-Institute, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants

“Risk assessment of invasive alien plants and the work of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation”

Dr Uwe Starfinger has a Diploma in Biology Free University of Berlin, Doctor rer. nat. with a thesis on an invasive plant species at the Technical University of Berlin. Worked as a research associate at the Institute of Ecology, TU Berlin. Since 2005 he has been a staff member at the Julius Kühn-Institute. His fields of interest include invasion ecology, risk assessment, plant population biology, and urban ecology.


Philip SantoPhilip Santo

Director, Philip Santo & Co

“Japanese Knotweed: A Legal Update”

Philip Santo is a Fellow of RICS with over 35 years of experience as a residential surveyor and valuer. He has acted as a consultant for RICS, representing RICS on the Council of Mortgage Lenders Valuation Panel and has contributed a number of important RICS publications. During 2012 Philip facilitated the cross-industry working group which produced the RICS Information Paper Japanese Knotweed and Residential Property.

Philip provides a range of CPD training and presentations and is a visiting lecturer at Portsmouth University. He writes for a number of professional publications, including the RICS Property Journal. The second book in his series about residential surveys, Inspections and Reports on Dwellings: Inspecting was published by Routledge last year.


Barrie HuntBarrie Hunt

Technical Development Manager, Monsanto

“What’s left to put in the sprayer?”

Barrie Hunt is the Technical Development Manager for Monsanto covering the UK, Ireland, Nordics, Baltics and Belarus. Responsible for Crop Protection products, Barrie’s focus is on glyphosate, a herbicide with which he has been involved for much of his 30 year career in the industry.

Besides working in the UK and Europe he has worked in weed ecology and herbicide development across the world including places as diverse as Australia, India, Brazil and North America. He is a Board Member of the Heather Trust, focused on upland management, and sits of the Executive Board of the British Crop Production Council as well as chairing their Expert Group on Weeds. Formally trained as an ecologist, he is a keen birdwatcher and naturalist, and has a passion for amenity weed management, especially of invasive aliens!


Craig Lee

Senior Policy Adviser, Invasive Non-native Species Team, Defra

“The future for Invasive Non-native Species Regulation in England”

Craig Lee is a Senior Policy Adviser within Defra’s Non-native Species Team. Craig led the review of the Great Britain Non-native Species Strategy in 2014 and was the author of the revised strategy which was published in 2015. He also led on the species control provisions contained in the Infrastructure Act 2015 and worked with the Home Office to produce its guide on using community protection notices to tackle Japanese knotweed and other invasive non-native species.

Craig was part of the UK’s negotiating team for the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation and is the UK’s representative on the Bern Convention’s Group of Experts on Invasive Alien Species. He is also the Chair of the England Working Group on non-native species.


Panel Debate


Kate HillsKate Hills

Invasive Non-native Species Ecologist, South West Water

Kate is responsible for developing a biosecurity strategy, training programmes and management plans for INNS over some 2,500 sites. She organised the first south west regional INNS forum and is supportive of a range of Local Action Groups and partnership projects. She sits on the committee of the Cornwall and Devon county invasive initiatives. She is the Water Companies’ representative on the GB Non Native Species Secretariat (GB NNSS) England Working Group, sits on the Angling Pathway Action Plan group and plays an active role in the new Water Companies partnership to develop Check, Clean, Dry with GB NNSS. She is hosting the Water Companies’ first INNS Forum and is keen to support further collaborative research and innovative measures for INNS.


Camilla Morrison-BellCamilla Morrison-Bell

Senior Policy Officer, British Ecological Society

The British Ecological Society (BES) is a learned society that communicates the value of ecological knowledge to policymakers and promotes evidence-informed solutions. Invasive non-native species is a priority policy topic for the BES policy team and their work has recently been supported by a number of papers being published in the BES Journal of Applied Ecology. Camilla is also Chair of the Wildlife and Countryside Link Invasive Non-Native Species Working Group which tackles issues associated with invasive non-native species in the UK and how these issues can be addressed, including practical intervention and appropriate legislation.


Dr Jonathan Newman

Managing Director, Waterland Management Ltd

Jonathan ran the Centre for Aquatic Plant Management for 26 years at The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and for 14 years before that at their own experimental site at Sonning.

He has undertaken research into most invasive aquatic and riparian species and still undertakes consultancy and control work on aquatic weeds and nuisance algae through his company Waterland Management Ltd.


Trevor RenalsTrevor Renals

Senior Technical Adviser Invasive Species, Environment Agency

Trevor has been involved in invasive species management for over 25 years. He is the senior national technical advisor in invasive species management in the Environment Agency and is involved in a number of national advisory groups, including the GB Biocontrol Steering Group. Trevor wrote the knotweed code of practice, which was an industry standard for 17 years, and continues to influence national policy.

He is also involved in national responses to new invasive species threats, and is coordinating the eradication of water primrose in the UK.


Dr Dick Shaw

Country Director, CABI UK

Dick Shaw is the Regional Coordinator for CABI’s invasive species activities for Europe and the Americas as well as being Country Director for CABI’s UK Centre in Egham. He has worked on the biological control of many weeds for CABI for 22 years and is an experienced applied entomologist having carried out fieldwork in more than 20 countries.
He oversees a team of researchers working on weeds that could have an impact on aquatic and riparian weeds in the UK including Japanese Knotweed.



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