This major conference will bring together plant health professionals and invasive species experts from across Great Britain & beyond, to discuss novel strategies for improving plant biosecurity and establish a sustainable knowledge exchange. The conference is organised against the backdrop of the Plant Biosecurity Strategy for Great Britain, as released in 2014, and revisions to the EU Plant Health Regime, which are soon to be realised. Great Britain's forests, woods and trees are under threat from a growing number of pests and diseases. Many of these threats are alien; historically not present in the UK having been introduced from overseas. Some of these threats may reach the UK naturally i.e. as wind-borne spores from continental Europe; potentially one pathway for introduction of the disease ash die-back. The alternative and probably more common pathway of introduction is via human activity, especially trade; for example through the movement of infected plants (another pathway identified for ash die-back) or the shipping of goods associated with infested timber (as is suspected to be the case with the recent introduction of the Asian long-horn beetle into Kent in packaging crates for stone). These cases illustrate that existing biosecurity measures are vulnerable and that we need to do more to improve our nation's biosecurity and protect our plants and trees; both cultivated and in the wider environment.
The benefits of increasing biosecurity come in the form of reduced losses from plant pests and disease through robust prevention, early detection and effective mitigation. There are a number of ways in which biosecurity innovations can be imagined and realised and these are reflected in the four main themes of the conference:
How can we find out about new threats earlier, what can be done in the additional time and how beneficial is it?
How can we work with the increasing scale and complexity of trade movements to reduce risk?
How can we understand, influence and nudge so as to adjust more bio-secure behaviours by stakeholders?
How can scientists produce tools that will be used effectively?
Conference sessions will be based around these themes. In addition, research findings from the LWEC Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative will be presented in a "Technology Fair" setting to garner feedback from a wide range of attendees.
Between January 2008 and March 2013, Sir John was the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of the Government Office for Science. He reported directly to the Prime Minister and attended Cabinet Sub-committees and, on occasion, Cabinet. Sir John was Head of Profession for Science and Engineering in Government and founded the Government Science and Engineering Network; he also headed the group of Chief Scientific Advisers in Government.
Nicola is an experienced research plant pathologist and worked on virus diseases of horticultural crops in the UK and internationally for over 20 years. She is an expert in plant health and international plant trade and was previously the Head of Plant Health and then Chief Scientist at the Food and Environment Research Agency.
Helen's research focuses on the effects of environmental change on insect populations and communities, with a particular interest in the dynamics of invasive non-native species and their effects on biodiversity. Helen is the chair of a COST Action ALIEN Challenge and leads a project to produce a comprehensive information portal on non-native species in Britain.
Rupert has worked in the field of technology commercialisation since 1996. His experience covers the commercialisation of different forms of intellectual property including trademark, copyright and patent licensing. He has particular expertise in the Agriculture and Biotechnology sectors having gained industry experience with Zeneca Agrochemicals (now Syngenta) prior to founding IP Pragmatics.
Rehema White is a sustainability generalist developing scholarship and pursuing sustainable development practice from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She works in: 1) governance of natural resources (including multi-level collaboration, global North-South links, roles of community); 2) knowledge and sustainable development (including learning for sustainability, research modes); and 3) sustainability in practice (including tree health). She is exploring integrative analysis and novel links across these different fields, drawing on her experiences across the natural and social sciences.
Michael Jeger received his PhD from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where his research interests have been in quantitative plant disease epidemiology. In recent years he has worked on the epidemiology of acute oak decline in the UK and Phytophthora ramorum in the hardy nursery trade and semi-natural environment. More broadly-based interests on plant diseases include: the potential impacts of climate change, integrating natural social science perspectives on risk, and the development of network models for the nursery trade. Michael is also the Chair of the Plant Health Panel of the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, which provides pest risk assessments for the European Commission.
Peter McClure is a 4th generation Florida family farmer with extensive experience in plant nursery production, citrus development and management, forestry plantation management, agricultural research, and water resource management. He is a Florida Master Naturalist and earned a B.S. degree from Florida Southern College in Citrus Business. Peter has planted and managed over 6 million trees in 16 counties across Florida and has an intimate understanding of Florida's unique and varied soils, climate, and water management requirements. He is also an elected member of the Board of Supervisors of the North St. Lucie River Water Control District and has been awarded the Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award, the Florida State Horticultural Society's Outstanding Commercial Horticulturist Award, and the St. Lucie County Conservationist of the Year Award.
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