5x15 x Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Trees and Forests
Joe Crowley is a broadcaster and environmental journalist best known for his regular reports on BBC1’s The One Show and Countryfile. A compelling story-teller, Joe is also a talented investigator and undercover journalist. In 2021 he pitched, co-produced and presented Panorama’s River Pollution Scandal, proving for the first time the illegal dumping of sewage in rivers by the UK water industry. He has also presented a number of ITV Tonight programmes. In 2022, he investigated the Drax Green Energy scandal for BBC Panorama, and revealed how Drax power station is chopping down trees and taking logs from some of the world’s most precious forests.
Ed Ikin is the Director of Wakehurst, leading Kew’s 535-acre wild botanic garden and fostering research partnerships with Kew Science. Ed has pioneered major new projects in the Sussex site, including the creation of a new six-acre American Prairie, Wakehurst’s most ambitious horticultural project in over a decade, and the award-winning Winter Garden. In 2021, Ed launched Nature Unlocked: the Landscape Ecology Programme at Wakehurst, a new science research project that uses Wakehurst’s rich landscape as a ‘living laboratory’ to scientifically measure nature’s benefits for people and the environment. Prior to joining Wakehurst, Ed was Chair of London Parks & Gardens Trust and General Manager for National Trust London, opening the organisation's first garden centre at Morden Hall Park. Ed was a 2017 Clore Fellow.
Professor Suzanne Simard is a Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia and the author of the book Finding the Mother Tree. Her research revealed that trees live in a connected society, trading, collaborating, and communicating in sophisticated ways through a shared underground network. She is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; and has been hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls in James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Her current research investigates how these complex relationships contribute to forest resiliency, adaptability and recovery and has far-reaching implications for how to manage and heal forests from human impacts, including climate change. She was awarded the Kew International Medal in March 2023, for her ‘invaluable work and devotion’ championing biodiversity in forests.
Kathy Willis CBE is a Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, the Principal of St Edmund Hall, and a Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords. She has previously served as Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens and as a member of the UK Government’s Natural Capital Committee. Her research focuses on understanding how plant biodiversity responds to climate change and other environmental drivers, as well as studying the ecosystem services that we obtain from plant biodiversity. She is internationally recognized for her work on these topics, and has led a number of global initiatives on plant and fungal biodiversity change. Kathy is also passionate about communicating science to the public. Her broadcasting work has included writing and presenting the 25-part BBC Radio 4 series From Roots to Riches, and alongside academic papers she has published three books for a more general audience: The Evolution of Plants (publisher Oxford University Press); Roots to Riches (publisher John Murray), based on the BBC series of the same name; and Botanicum (publisher Big Picture Press) which is part of a successful series of books for children. She was awarded the Michael Faraday Medal for public communication of science in 2015 by the Royal Society.