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Lord Gardiner was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity on 14 June 2017. Lord Gardiner served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 17 July 2016 to June 2017. He is a Conservative member of the House of Lords.
Sir Tim Smit is best known for his achievements in Cornwall. He ‘discovered’ and then restored ‘The Lost Gardens of Heligan’ with John Nelson, one of the UK’s best loved gardens.
Tim is Executive Vice-Chair and Co-founder of the multi award-winning Eden Project in Cornwall. Since its opening in 2001, 20 million people have come to see a once sterile pit, turned into a cradle of life containing world-class horticulture and startling architecture symbolic of human endeavour. Tim is also Executive Chairman for Eden Project International which aims to have an Eden Project on every habited continent by 2025.
Tim will speak about the fact if the world’s scientific institutions were even half as good as they say they are the global political awareness of our dependence on the Natural world would be significantly different. Why do we allow our scientists to preach to the choir and call transmission the same thing as communication?! There is little understanding of the need to measure reception. This is a criminal betrayal of science and the citizen!
Neville Fay, is founder CEO of the Sustainable Soils Alliance and principal consultant Treework Environmental Practice. He is a chartered arboriculturist and was honoured in 2009 with the Arboricultural Association Award for Services to Arboriculture. He is past-chairman of the Ancient Tree Forum and founder of the charity Tree Aid. He sits on the publication committee of the National Tree Safety Group, is a Fellow of the Linnean and Royal Geographical Societies. He lectures on conservation arboriculture, ancient trees, public safety and tree policy. Neville co-authored The Specialist Survey Method and Trees – a Lifespan Approach. His current studies include investigations into tree declines related to the soil environment.
Head of the Arboretum, Gardens & Horticultural Services at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, responsible for the management and curation of over 14,000 trees and the hardy herbaceous collections.
He has participated and led several plant collecting expeditions to Chile and the Far East of Asia, including China, Taiwan, Japan, S. Korea and Russia.
He is an author and recently published “Essential Pruning Techniques”.
He featured in several television programmes raising the awareness of trees.
He represents Kew on the RHS woody plant committee and awards committee, the International Dendrology Society, and is a trustee of the Yorkshire Arboretum and Tree Register of the British Isles. He lectures internationally and regularly writes articles and papers.
In 2009 he was awarded the Associate of Honour by the RHS for distinguished service to horticulture and Honorary Lifetime fellow of the Arboricultural Association.
Prof Bridget Emmett has 30 years of experience in environmental research. She works for NERC’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) as Head of Soils and Land Use Research and also has responsibility as Head of Site at CEH Bangor. Her personal research interests are soil health, climate change impacts, monitoring and modelling impacts of land management on natural capital and ecosystem services and developing data and decision support systems. An important focus of her work is in supporting policy development and decision making. She was appointed as the specialist adviser to the 2016 Parliamentary Inquiry into Soil Health, is Chair of NERC’s Soil Security Programme Advisory Board and is a member of NERC Strategic Programme Advisory Group.
Quantifying the impacts of woodlands and trees on soils is a very active area of research within the soils community due to the large increases in woodland cover being proposed to deliver a range of likely benefits such as climate mitigation and access to areas for recreation. This presentation will explore our current evidence base for these benefits and explore the role of soils in their delivery. Questions explored will include: How will changes in soil health contribute to mitigation of carbon emissions, flood and water pollution? What are their environmental and economic value relative to other potential benefits such as recreation benefits and air quality improvements? How significant are increased risks of acidification of rivers and infrastructure damage? What is the evidence base for changes in soils biodiversity for which we have no current methods for valuation? What is the current state of woodland soils and are they improving or declining in condition? The presentation will conclude with an exemplar of modelling work being undertaken for Welsh Government to support the development of new land management schemes as the UK plans to leave the EU. How can woodlands and other land uses help to protect our natural resources and deliver outcomes which benefit the wider public.
Professor David Johnson currently the N8 Chair in Microbial Ecology at the University of Manchester. He is a terrestrial ecologist with a particular interest in understanding how plants interact with the myriad organisms that live in soil, especially symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi, and the consequences of these interactions for biogeochemical cycles. David’s research addresses: i) how components of biodiversity (functional groups, species and genotype) regulate ecosystem functions such as greenhouse gas production and nutrient cycling, ii) the ecological and evolutionary implications of multi-trophic interactions, including those mediated below ground by mycorrhizal fungal networks, and above ground via vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores and seabirds, and iii) impacts of land-use, climate and environmental change on ecosystem processes.
The growth of most trees in nature is limited by mineral nutrients. To overcome this problem, trees have evolved symbioses with soil-borne microorganisms (mycorrhizal fungi) that can greatly enhance nutrient uptake. In many cases, the association between tree roots and mycorrhizal fungi are quite specific; we don’t know why specificity has evolved but one hypothesis is that it relates to increased exchange of nutrients between partners. In this talk, I will introduce the importance and functional role of mycorrhizal fungi in the context of tree growth in natural and managed systems, and go on to describe experiments that have tested the importance of fungal diversity as a regulator of tree growth and nutrition. I will outline how trees interact with their soil chemical, physical and biological environment, and pay particular attention to the role of mycorrhizal fungi in these interactions. Finally, I will provide insight into how we may be able to manage this key group of soil microorganisms, and under what circumstances this may be most beneficial.
William Bryant Logan is an arborist, teacher and writer. Logan is the author of three books, Dirt, Oak, and Air, all from WW Norton. Twenty-five years ago, he founded Urban Arborists in New York City. The firm cares for the largest and oldest trees in the city, and for such institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Madison Square Park, Battery Park, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Logan is on the faculty of the New York Botanical Garden. He is on the board of directors of the Edmund N. Huyck Preserve and Biological Field Station.
Soil is not a dead substrate for the living. It is the matrix where the mineral and organic worlds meet to create a living body in nature. We might do well to set our sights on becoming like the dung beetle: a constant user of the soil whose use in fact improves it.
Even to many landscape designers today, the soil is often just a set of numbers: some little bags for testing. Their real interest is in the paving, the benches, the plants and the shapes. A young woman I was planting trees with in the Bronx got it righter: Dirt is more alive than we are, she said. Fourth-fifths of the respiration in a forest in upstate New York, for example, comes from the creatures who live in the soil.
If we are to see dirt as alive, we had best know how it lives: Factors of Soil Formation. The mineral and the organic together make the matrix. Water not only to break down rocks but also to make clays. The organic part of the dirt is guided by the decomposers. Darwin found the same fungal spores off Africa as Lindbergh found flying over Iceland and I found on the Brooklyn Bridge. Their role is the take the leavings of the living and mineralize them to drive the energy systems in the matrix of the soil. Two great observers of the organic fraction of the dirt were a poet and a microbiologist: Walt Whitman and Selman Waksman. The first predicted the second.
Three contemporary examples of working with the soil as a living body in nature: Will Brinton uses composts to remediate soils that have been damaged by everything from excess nitrogen to viruses to munitions waste. Wes Jackson and his colleagues at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, breed perennial crop plants who root systems imitate the extraordinary roots of prairie grasses. In the urban Northeast, there are tree people working to create synthetic soils that will allow our trees to grow in the midst of statutorily compacted soils.
Lynne Boddy has taught and researched into the ecology of wood decomposition for 40 years. She is currently investigating heart-rot in deciduous trees, the ash dieback fungus, the ways in which fungi fight each other and form communities, and how they search the forest floor for food resources and respond to their finds. She is a prolific author having co-authored Fungal Decomposition of Wood, edited six books, written well over 200 scientific papers, and is chief editor of the journal Fungal Ecology. She was (2009–2010) president of the British Mycological Society. Lynne is an ardent communicator of the mysteries and importance of the amazing hidden Kingdom of Fungi to the general public including TV, radio, popular talks, articles and exhibitions.
Mycelia of some wood decay fungi and root pathogens, and all of the tree mycorrhizal fungi, extend into soil, sometimes forming extensive long-lived mycelial systems. In soil they search for food resources, and inevitably encounter other fungi. They operate foraging strategies enabling capture of resources patchily and sparsely distributed in space and time. The main resource capture strategies of wood decay fungi are: (1) 'sit and wait', whereby a large mycelial network waits for resources to land on it; (2) 'seek and find' where the mycelium grows out of a resource in active search for new resources; and (3) most commonly both (1) and (2) simultaneously. Mycelial networks respond dramatically to encounter with new resources, and are remodelled continuously. Their success lies in this ability to remodel, and in their network architecture, both of which vary between species and environmental conditions. This talk will take you on a journey through soil, introducing you to the dramatic ways in which decomposer cord-forming basidiomycetes respond to new resources and to interactions with other organisms by remodelling mycelial architecture and taking up and translocating nutrients. I will explain the significance of different types of network architecture. Finally, I will consider the implications of mycorrhizal mycelial networks interconnecting trees.
Marc-André SELOSSE is professor at Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (Paris), and Universities of Gdansk (Poland) and Viçosa (Brazil). His teams’ researches focus on the ecology and evolution of mycorrhizas, a major symbiosis between soil fungi and plants, with a focus on orchid mycorrhizal fungi and on truffles. He works on mycorrhizal networks in temperate and tropical forests. President of the Société botanique de France and member of the French Academy of Agriculture, he is editor of Symbiosis, New Phytologist, Ecology Letters and Botany Letters. He is active in popular science and his papers are available by clicking here.
Trees, as most plants, are deeply dependant on microbial life to fulfil most of their functions. Their cellular metabolism, health and even morphological development are partly due to (or helped by) microbes. The soil especially is a major reservoir of microbial partners impacting the life of trees. Mycorrhizal fungi are the most known, which form dual organs with roots (mycorrhizas): they are active in plant nutrition and protection, and they are perhaps the best managed, although far from routinely. Nitrogen-fixing bacterial symbioses are also relevant for some trees from the Rosidae (incl. Legumes), and have important consequences for forest ecosystems. Finally, pathogenic fungi in soil turn out to be major players in shaping the distribution of forest tree species. The balance between mutualistic and pathogenic microbes, which are often specific for a given tree species, is now recognized as a major determinant of the species’ ecological behaviour. One can distinguish species with positive soil feedback (i.e. whose establishment enhances mainly mutualistic microbes: they dominate in temperate forest and explain species-poor forests) and species with negative soil feedback (whose establishment enhances mainly the self-pathogenic microbes: they dominate in tropical forest and explain species-rich forests). Moreover, soil microbes and feedback can determine ecological features such as successional status, rarity, or invasiveness.
Howard Thomas was born and educated in Wales and, after a research career including visiting professorships at Universities in Japan, the United States and Switzerland, he is now emeritus Professor of Biology at Aberystwyth University. He has published extensively on plant development and has a special interest in the science-humanities connection. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, a Trustee of the New Phytologist and co-author of The Molecular Life of Plants (2013, Wiley) and Food and the Literary Imagination (2014, Palgrave). His most recent books are Senescence (2016) and The War Between Trees and Grasses (2017).
The evolutionary relationships between forests, grasslands and humans have exerted profound terraforming influences, not just on and through readily visible landscapes but also (and perhaps especially) below ground. I’ll look at how these interactions have played out at various points in the history of the land flora and the arrival of hominins.
John Gilliland, Director of Agriculture with Devenish Nutrition is highly respected and recognised as an excellent participant and communicator in the Agri Food and Sustainable Land management Sectors. He has been an award winning Farmer in Ireland and in the UK; an Innovator and Farm Leader; while at the same time, he has been a policy adviser for Devolved, National and European Governments.
Previously, John was a Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Rural College and SAC Consultancy in Edinburgh, positions he held for the last seven years; formerly a President of the Ulster Farmers Union during the 2001 outbreak of Foot & Mouth; Vice Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission; and Chair of the UK’s Rural Climate Change Forum. He currently runs his family’s 180ha, arable and willow farm in N. Ireland; and currently, chairs N. Ireland’s Expert Working Group, which has published N. Ireland’s first Sustainable Land Management Strategy for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, in Belfast, in 2016, followed by an Ammonia Annex report in 2018, and whose work has been singled out by the EU Commission as being “Inspirational.”
John currently is Project Leader of the Devenish Lands at Dowth, a 180ha grass and woodland heritage farm in the Bru na Boinne UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ireland. For the last four years John has been creating a Ruminant Landscape “Performance House,” by the use pioneering science such as using Aerial LiDAR technology to credibly validate the public value of a diverse ruminant and woodland landscape. For his efforts, the farm has just been selected to be one of four International Lighthouse farms for Wageningen University Research in recognition of the farm’s pioneering implementation of new science.
Martin studied at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and the University of California at Berkeley. He is a Reader in Molecular Ecology at Imperial College London based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He investigates the ecology and evolution of mycorrhizas, one of the dominant symbioses of terrestrial ecosystems. The systems that he has studied include arbuscular, ectomycorrhizal, monotropoid and orchid mycorrhizas, and mycorrhiza-like associations of bryophytes. Following his ground-breaking research on the evolutionary ecology of the diverse plants that cheat mycorrhizal mutualisms, his team has investigated: 1) the mycorrhizal ecology of heathlands first revealing the mechanisms of pine and birch invasions and then uncovering nutritional links among heathers, fungi and bryophytes, 2) the ecological drivers of forest mycorrhizas at large scales, revealing the impacts of nitrogen pollution across European forests in collaboration with ICP Forests, and 3) the ecology and evolution of their newly discovered, yet ancient and globally-widespread, symbioses between lineages of plants and fungi.
Trees do not have roots, they have fungus roots, or mycorrhizas.
These ancient worldwide partnerships exchange tree carbon for fungal minerals and water. Mycorrhizas are the interface between trees and soil; they control tree nutritional status. At a time when alarming declines in tree mineral nutrition are being reported across Europe, mycorrhizal diversity still baffles ecologists, particularly at large geographical scales, and makes it difficult to predict ecosystem responses to change and manage these keystone ecological players. We know from historical mushroom records that the reproduction of some fungi responds to global change, but what is happening belowground regarding their growth into roots and soil is less clear. In collaboration with one of the most extensive and intensive environmental monitoring networks, ICP Forests, and with support from the UK Natural Environment Research Council, we analyzed 40,000 mycorrhizas from 13,000 soil cores across the dominant European trees at 137 sites in 20 countries. We determined drivers of mycorrhizal diversity, pollution thresholds, specificity and plasticity.
Richard’s career has been a mixture of policy development, R&D and operational support for the Environment Agency and its predecessors on soils since 1989.
His main focus has been on raising awareness about soil compaction causing runoff, pollution and flooding.
The work has involved developing a range of practical guidance materials and field support for staff, partners and farmers.
Richard has also supported Defra developing farming rules on soils and pollution.
Devon and Cornwall have landscapes that are inherently at risk to problems with soil structure, particularly soil compaction. This is mainly because of the wet climate and high risk land uses. The problem is acute in wet years where soil compaction can be widespread with hidden costs affecting land managers and the environment.
Degradation of soil structure where the soil becomes compacted and impermeable can lead to unnatural or enhanced runoff causing flooding and pollution.
Modern use of the land has the ability to change soil structure and hydrology across large areas of the landscape very quickly, and there is increasing evidence to demonstrate that this is happening in the South West.
Soil compaction can be subtle. It is not necessarily restricted to the obvious impact that is seen for example concentrated around wheel marks. Less severe compaction can be found at various levels in the soil profile. All compaction restricts downward water movement and can lead to surface saturation affecting plant growth, soil aeration and causing enhanced runoff.
There is a need to develop more skills in the surveying of soils and their condition and to provide services to help land managers identify and deal with problems. These services are needed on a wide range of land uses including agriculture, woodland, designated conservation areas and development sites.