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“Management, Understanding & A Look to the Future”

“Really varied and relevant range of topics. Knowledgeable speakers who gave presentations very professionally.” [conference delegate]

The third annual PCA Invasive Weed Control Group conference took place at the Møller Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge on 23rd November 2017.

Over 120 delegates, comprising PCA members, non-members, contractors, surveyors, lawyers, public authorities and academics, gained valuable insights across a range of topics from a packed programme of speakers.

This year, the conference included speakers on topics relating to Japanese Knotweed (JK) – including Philip Santo providing “A Legal Update on Japanese Knotweed”, and Tom Robinson illustrating with videos the performance of different spray nozzles used for controlling Japanese Knotweed – while also broadening it’s scope to include other non-native invasive species which are also posing challenges.

Buddleia is one such invasive species, and the rail network is more than aware of this, as outlined by Dr Neil Strong from Network RailAquatic invasive weeds too are increasingly making headlines, and Alex Brook from Ebsford Environmental and Dr Jane Birch from the Environment Agency explored this theme, with Jane looking at the impact of Floating Pennywort in particular.

On an international note, Dr Maria do Rosário Fernandes from the University of Lisbon and Dr Uwe Starfinger from the Julius-Kühn Institute in Germany presented to delegates on their research in using remote detection methods of giant reed invasions, and risk assessment and the work of the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation.

The ongoing deliberations of the EU over the future and continued use or not of glyphosate is a key issue for this sector and Barrie Hunt from Monsanto delivered a most engaging and eye opening session on this topic. To wrap up the day, delegates heard from Craig Lee, Senior Policy Adviser at Defra, who provided insights into the future for invasive non-native species regulation in England.

The full speaker programme was rounded off with what has become the traditional panel debate. Members of the panel initially considered the question “What would be the two main changes you anticipate in the management of invasive non-native plants in the next five years?” before exploring arising themes further and taking questions from the audience. Our thanks go to the panel members: Kate Hills from South West Water, Camilla Morrison-Bell from the British Ecological Society, Dr Johnathan Newman of Waterland Management Ltd, Trevor Renals, Environment Agency and Dr Richard Shaw from CABI UK.

Delegates were able to further benefit from the opportunity to network and gain both CPD and BASIS points for attending.

There was also plenty of interaction from delegates on Twitter: @PCAPropertyCare #PCAConference

Programme & Speaker presentations

Details of the conference programme with links to selected speaker presentations, where we have permission to use, are below. Speaker profiles can be found here.

Session 1: Management

Dr Neil Strong, Environment Manager, Network Rail
Neil current focus is on the sustainable management of the railway lineside to improve safety and biodiversity of the rail network. This includes manageing buddleia while trains pass at up to 200kph!
“Management of buddleia on the operational railway” [presentation link not available]

Alex Brook, Senior Contracts Manager (Invasives), Ebsford Environmental Ltd
Alex has a wealth of experience in the surveying and management of invasive non-native weeds in aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
[Presentation link] “Invasive non-native aquatic weeds: an often underestimated problem”

Tom Robinson, Tom Robinson Sprays
Tom has been an enormous influence on spray operators, the agrochemical industry and on the development of nozzle technology over the last 10 years.
“Investigation into the performance of different spray nozzles used for controlling Japanese Knotweed” [presentation link not available]

Dr Ken Thompson, University of Sheffield
Ken is a plant biologist with a keen interest in the public undersdtanding of science and especially the science of gardening.
[Presentation link] “Propagules of invasive species – some biology”

Session 2: Understanding

Dr Maria do Rosário Pereira Fernandes, University of Lisbon
Maria’s research activities are mainly focussed on the assessment of the riparian ecological condition using image-based methods, including the remote detection of alien species in riparian corridors.
[Presentation link] “Remote detection of giant reed invasions in riparian habitats: challenges and opportunities for management planning”

Dr Jane Birch, Technical Specialist, Environment Agency
Jane is currently researching the impact of the non-native species Hydrocotyle ranunculoides L.f (Floating Pennywort) on native macrophyte communities.
“Impact of Floating Pennywort on native macrophyte communities” [presentation link not available]

Dr Uwe Starfinger, Julius-Kühn Institute, Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants
Uwe’s fields of interest include invasion ecology, risk assessment, plant population biology and urban ecology.
[Presentation link] “Risk assessment of invasive alien plants and the work of the European and Meditarranean Plant Protection Organisation”

Session 3: A Look to the Future

Philip Santo, Philip Santo & Co
Philip is a Fello of RICS with over 35 years experience as a residential surveyor and valuer, and has contributed to a number of important RICS publications.
“Japanese Knotweed: A legal update” [presentation link not available]

Barrie Hunt, Technical Development Manager, Monsanto
Responsible for crop protection products at Monsanto, Barrie’s focus is on glyphosate, a herbicide with which he has been involved for much of his 30 year career in the industry. [This version has an updated summary slide as of 27.11.17] [Presentation link] “What’s left to put in the sprayer?”

Craig Lee, Senior Policy Adviser, Defra
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.
[Presentation link] “The future for Invasive Non-native Species Regulation in England”

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