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11. Plant Health, Biosecurity and Ecosystem Change


Join Dr Nigel Dunnett and a panel of expert as they debate planning, designing and managing plant health through the lens of climate adaptation. This session will consider  priorities  for a new approach to urban greening and a visual overview of a toolkit of urban interventions and new vegetation layers. We will gain understanding of pest and pathogen threats to tree health, a better understanding of the role and responsibilities of the UK Plant Health Service and increased awareness of government’s new tree planting targets and Defra’s Tree Health Resilience Strategy.


11a. Greening the grey: a new way forward – Dr Nigel Dunnett

Large-scale, transformational greening is required to tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis, and yet, despite decades of discussion of ‘nature in cities’, ‘urban greening’ and ‘Green Infrastructure, this has yet to be the mainstream, default position.  A new approach is needed that focuses on visual appeal  and aesthetics; ease of implementation, establishment and maintenance; and that has proven and demonstrated ecological function. Nigel briefly discusses examples of his work with this approach, including urban roof gardens and podiums, SuDS and Green Streets, and Urban Meadows, and gives details of Sheffield’s landmark ‘Grey to Green’ scheme (Phase 1, 2016; Phase 2, 2020)


11b. The biosecurity crisis and tree health – Lisa Smith, DEFRA

Threats to tree health are increasing, due to the globalisation of trade and travel and climate change. There is unlikely to be any reduction in this biosecurity pressure and government works across the biosecurity continuum to screen for risks from abroad and conduct surveillance at the border and inland, to prevent the entry of pests and diseases or to detect and respond to outbreaks swiftly. Government ambitions to plant more trees to meet Net Zero targets, provide an opportunity to improve the resilience of our treescape by increasing UK production and enhancing the quality and diversity of our planting stock.


11c. Seeded landscapes: A more resilient solution? – Sue France, Pictorial Meadows

In this session, Sue France will share her unique experience from 20 years of developing ‘designed meadows’ specifically for urban landscapes, through  the use of direct seeding and intelligent management. After gaining extensive insight into what makes them fail and what makes them succeed over the long term, Sue’s current focus is how these techniques might be rolled out much more widely. How can the insights of the last 20 years be used to create more resilient flower and species-rich environments for the future?


11d. Panel discussion

Planning, designing and managing plant health through the lens of climate adaptation

Dr Nigel Dunnett & Lisa Smith & Sue France

Dr Nigel Dunnett, Greening the grey

Nigel Dunnett is Professor of Planting Design and Urban Horticulture at the University of Sheffield. A pioneer of new ecological approaches to planting for public spaces, his work revolves around integrating ecology and horticulture to achieve low-input, high-impact landscapes.  With  projects  including The Queen Elizabeth London Olympic Park, Barbican Centre, Grosvenor Square and Sheffield Grey to Green, Nigel’s work is based on decades of detailed experimental work, and widespread application in practice. He works as a designer and consultant, regularly collaborating across professions. Nigel has written books on planting design, water-sensitive design, rainwater management and green roofs. He founded the seed company Pictorial Meadows.


Lisa Smith, DEFRA

Lisa Smith is Head of Tree Health Policy and Plant Health Evidence and Analysis in Defra, leading an interdisciplinary team of that informs policies on the health of plants and trees. An applied biologist, with a background in microbiology and antimicrobial resistance, Lisa joined Defra (then MAFF) in 1999. She is part of the UK Plant Health Service, helping to tackle the escalating number of threats to plant health, and leading government policy on tree health issues. In 2018, she co-authored and published Defra’s Tree Health Resilience Strategy, the first output from the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.


Sue France, Pictorial Meadows

Sue France is founder and CEO of the Green Estate and Pictorial Meadows. She trained as a horticulturalist, educationalist and landscape manager, and has over 40 years’ experience in the parks and environmental industry. Her previous roles include Head of Horticulture at Duchy College Cornwall, Conservation Manager for Camden Parks and Strategic Advisor for Cabespace. Sue was recently awarded the RHS medal for Services to Northern Horticulture. The Green Estate started as a one-year greenspace regeneration project but has evolved over 20 years into a thriving not-for- profit organisation. Pictorial Meadows forms part of Green Estate’s portfolio, helping it to deliver its environmental and social mission.

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