Speakers – Day 1

Professor Alexandre Antonelli 

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK 

Alexandre Antonelli took up the role of Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in February 2019. He was formerly Professor in Biodiversity and Systematics at the University of Gothenburg, Scientific Curator at Gothenburg Botanical Garden, and Director of the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre. From January to July 2018, he was the Cisneros Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University, USA. Antonelli’s research has focused on elucidating the origins and evolution of the rich biodiversity of tropical regions, with a focus on the Andean and Amazonian regions of South America. Under the project funded by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, he is leading the development of approaches for the rapid quantification of biodiversity, by means of high-throughput DNA sequencing and citizen-science observations of species using mobile phones. 

Chris Bawtree 

Ground Control Ltd, UK 

Chris is Ground Control’s Environmental lead, delivering their ‘Caring for our Environment’ core purpose through developing strategy and maintaining compliance for the business. In addition, he leads the Woodland Creation business unit and sits on the board of their Evergreen environmental fund. Chris is a Chartered Landscape Architect with a postgraduate diploma in forestry. He has worked in the Landscape industry for over 25 years, predominantly in the construction sector. His career has developed from consultancy through to Construction Director with Ground Control from 2002 to 2015. In his Director role he led the division from £0.5 million revenue to over £20 million. Chris is passionate about trees and woodlands and developing Ground Control’s offer in this sector. His ambition is to contribute to increasing the UK’s woodland cover in partnership with clients and landowners, making a positive contribution to the fight against climate change. 

Dr Pedro H. S. Brancalion 

University of São Paulo, Brazil 

Pedro is an associate professor of the Department of Forest Sciences, University of São Paulo, and vice-coordinator of the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact, a multi-stakeholder coalition to restore 15 million hectares of this highly threatened ecosystem by 2050. His work focuses on transforming restoration into an economically viable, ecologically efficient land use with greater potential to contribute to biodiversity conservation and human wellbeing. Pedro has engaged farmers, private companies, governments and NGOs in forest restoration programs in Brazil, to develop effective solutions to scale up restoration and maximize its multiple benefits to nature and society. 

Jessica Chalmers 

WeForest ABSL, Belgium 

Jessica is WeForest’s Partnerships and Communications Director, working with businesses, individuals, trusts and foundations to fund forest restoration projects in Africa and Latin America. Her work builds engagement and support for the restoration and protection of 85,000 hectares by 2024, the equivalent of 100 million trees, through models for sponsorship, donation and carbon investment. WeForest has worked with over 400 funding organisations since 2009. 

Dr Martin Cheek 

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK 

Martin Cheek is a botanist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where he leads the Africa team in the Identification & Naming department. The team undertakes fundamental taxonomic research and botanical inventories of underexplored areas, resulting in the discovery of hundreds of species new to science, the publication of baseline taxonomic treatments, and the evaluation of the conservation status of thousands of species. We are also responsible for curating a large portion of Kew's Herbarium collections. Immediate beneficiaries of our work include government agencies and non-governmental organisations designating and managing protected areas, as well as land managers in the extractive industries tasked with mitigating their impacts on biodiversity-rich areas. Long-term beneficiaries include all those wishing to understand, conserve and use the plants of Africa and Madagascar. Martin’s own research is focussed on the floristics of West and Congolian Africa, especially Cameroon and Guinea. 

Dr Susan Chomba 

World Agroforestry (ICRAF), Kenya 

Susan is a transdisciplinary scientist and leader of the EU-funded Regreening Africa programme at World Agroforestry (ICRAF), based in Nairobi. Regreening Africa’s objective is to reverse land degradation by scaling up proven and cost-effective restoration options across eight countries, while providing tangible and sustainable benefits to rural communities. Together with her colleagues at ICRAF, her work entails assessing the drivers of land degradation, designing appropriate restoration techniques and working with development partners such as World Vision, Oxfam, CARE, CRS and Sahel Eco to scale up restoration to millions of hectares and smallholder farmers on the continent. Susan is passionate about applying research to inform development. She believes development interventions are most effective when they are informed by evidence; and research is most impactful when it is used to solve real world challenges in concert with those affected by them. 

Dr Colin P. Clubbe 

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK 

Colin heads the Conservation Science department which brings together four key research areas for Kew: Islands with a focus on the UK, UK Overseas Territories and Madagascar; Conservation Assessment and Analysis; Conservation Genetics; and Seed Conservation. The department's overall aim is to provide solutions to the world’s plant and fungal conservation problems based on rigorous, evidence-based research. Colin is a conservation biologist with wide-ranging interests in biodiversity conservation, especially on Islands and UK Overseas Territories. His research focuses on the study of plant diversity, threats, particularly the impact of invasive species, and developing strategies for conservation management of plant diversity. 

Mr Guaraci M. Diniz Jr. 

Araribá Botanical Garden (JBA), Brazil 

Guaraci has been a teacher and agroecologic agriculturist for 35 years. He is the President Director of the NGO GAEA (Environmental Studies and Activities Group) and a member of several environmental committees. He is also a member of the Deliberative Council and Project Director of FREPESP (São Paulo’s Private Ecological Reserves Federation). Guaraci conducts ecological restoration and agroforestry practices at JBA and Duas Cachoeira’s Farm, where he is Chief Executive and Pedagogic Coordinator of the educational and Agricultural Project. He works in environmental educational project development, environmental restoration and reforestation, applying agroecological concepts in rural properties. 

Lee Dudley  

Woodland Trust, UK 

Lee is Head of Environmental Carbon for the Woodland Trust, leading the development of finance and land supply to address both climate change and the biodiversity crisis. During his 28 years’ experience of managing and creating woodlands across the UK he has a foundation of delivery achievements that underpins a pragmatic approach to carbon in newly created native woodlands, especially where ecosystem services can be initiated or maintained. The Trust has validated 17 projects, which predicts 237,000 tonnes of carbon sequestration over 100 years. By utilising the Carbon Code, engagement with a wide variety of private finance organisations has been possible leading to funding opportunities that will address climate change and biodiversity loss. The Woodland Trust support the Carbon Code for its integrity and applicability to measured carbon outcomes. Previously Lee has been involved in initiating biosecurity plant procurement mechanism (UK Irish Source and Grown) which can protect trees and seed from pests and diseases, urban renewal projects, brownfield land remediation and transboundary partnerships in Eastern Europe.  

Dr Gunter A. Fischer 

Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), Hong Kong SAR, China 

Gunter is Head of the Flora Conservation Department at KFBG where he manages plant science, plant conservation, arboriculture, horticulture, the Botanic Garden as well as the Nature Reserve of KFBG. His research seeks to bridge science and conservation to advance species recovery, reintroduction and ecosystem restoration programmes, as well as to understand the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Gunter integrates horticulture, arboriculture and forestry with conservation genetics, spatial analysis and applied ecology for the restoration of human-modified landscapes. Factors influencing the recovery, reintroduction and restoration of species are manipulated in field experiments to seek new perspectives for designing and implementing restoration strategies. 

Dr Kate A. Hardwick 

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK 

Kate is a Conservation Partnership Coordinator in RBG Kew’s Conservation Science Department, where she develops and manages conservation and research projects for the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, particularly in Asia. Together with colleagues and partners, her work aims to secure the safe storage of seed from the world’s bankable plant species, whilst promoting plant conservation, sustainable utilisation of plant resources, habitat restoration and the improvement of livelihoods. Kate’s research interests are focussed on the use of seeds in ecological restoration, with an emphasis on tropical forests and temperate grasslands. 

Professor John Herbohn  

Forest Research Institute, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia 

Dr Herbohn is Professor of Tropical Forestry at the University of the Sunshine Coast. His research is focussed on reforestation and restoration of tropical areas, and spans social, economic, biophysical and policy disciplines. A focal point of his research is reforestation systems that improve livelihoods and food security of smallholders in developing countries. His work involves transdisciplinary approaches in both research and on-ground reforestation and restoration efforts. He is an advocate of evidence-based policy and the need to engage with policy makers to advocate policy change. He has published widely in the fields of tropical forest ecology, forest economics, forest policy and the social aspects of community and smallholder forestry systems. Dr Herbohn has worked extensively in the Philippines, tropical Australia and Papua New Guinea, along with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. He is also Foundation Director of the USC Forest Research Institute and the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre. 

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales 

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales is Patron of RBG Kew. He has had a long history of involvement with, and interest in, the environment and sustainability, using his unique position to champion action for a sustainable future. In the context of global challenges that include the climate crisis and deforestation, HRH has promoted sustainability to ensure that the natural assets upon which we all depend endure for future generations. His Royal Highness believes that economic and social development will best succeed when it works in harmony, rather than in conflict, with Nature. Over the decades, The Prince of Wales has launched a number of sustainability initiatives aimed at delivering practical outcomes. In late 2019, he launched the Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council and, more recently under this initiative, the Terra Carta recovery plan, a roadmap for businesses to move towards an ambitious and sustainable future. 

Dr Patricia M. Holmes 

Cape Ecological Services & Stellenbosch University, South Africa 

Patricia is a plant ecologist and consultant with a particular interest in alien plant invasions and ecological restoration in the major vegetation types of the Cape Floristic Region. Since the 1980s she has researched the ecology and management of invasive alien trees, fynbos vegetation dynamics, seed ecology and restoration ecology. She has participated regularly in forums promoting collaboration among scientists, managers and landowners. During her 13 years as Biophysical Specialist at the Cape Town Municipality, she was responsible for biodiversity planning, restoration planning in City-run nature reserves and advising staff on ecological management. She also participated in several inter-disciplinary studies, such as the importance of natural open space in ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change and delivery of ecosystem services. 

Abyd Karmali OBE 

Bank of America, UK 

Abyd Karmali is Managing Director, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Sustainable Finance at Bank of America. Previously, he served as Merrill Lynch’s Global Head of Carbon Markets. In 2014, he joined the team supporting the bank’s broader capital deployment commitment to mobilise $300 billion for low-carbon investment opportunities by 2030. He has worked for almost 30 years on climate change and sustainable finance and was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for these efforts in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for 2019. Prior, he was a partner in a management consulting firm where he advised companies on climate strategy and spent two years with the UN Environment Programme as Energy and Climate Change Programme Officer. From 2013 to 2015, Mr Karmali was selected to serve as private sector representative to the Board of the UN Green Climate Fund. His external roles include the Energy Transition Commission, the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, co-chair of the Sustainable Finance Working Group for the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Task Force for Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets, and Climate Bonds Initiative’s Advisory Group for Climate Resilience Bonds. 

Professor Simon L. Lewis 

University College London & University of Leeds, UK 

Simon is Professor of Global Change Science at both University College London and the University of Leeds. Simon is a plant ecologist by training, with a PhD from the University of Cambridge. His main research interests are to understand how humans are changing the Earth system, with a focus on the tropics and the global carbon cycle. He has published research on forest restoration and tree planting for carbon and biodiversity benefits. His major scientific discoveries include the globally significant carbon sink in intact tropical forests, the evolution of the carbon sink, and drivers of change; and in 2017, discovering the world's largest tropical peatland complex in the heart of the Congo Basin. He co-founded and co-manages the African Tropical Rainforest Observatory and the global data repository and management tool forestplots.net. In 2018, he published, with Mark Maslin, The human planet: How we created the Anthropocene, an exploration of the science, history and politics of the Anthropocene, which was an Observer book of the year. 

Dr Musonda Mumba 

The Rome Center for Sustainable Development, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Kenya 

Musonda is the new Director for the Rome Center for Sustainable Development under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Center will focus on three priority areas, notably: Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Nature Protection. In her role, she will provide strategic leadership on these issues through convening, collaboration, connecting and co-designing as the world navigates complexity and uncertainty, with the aim of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) collectively. She has over 20 years’ experience in environmental and conservation fields globally. She is the Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR). She is also the Founder of the Network of African Women Environmentalists (NAWE). 

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez  

Global Environment Facility, USA 

Lawyer by profession, politician by choice, and conservationist at heart, Carlos Manuel Rodriguez was elected as CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) by its governing body, the GEF Council, in June 2020. The former Costa Rican Environment and Energy Minister, he was a pioneer in the development of Payment for Ecosystem Services initiatives and strategies for forest restoration, ocean conservation, and decarbonisation, and is an internationally recognised expert on environmental policy, multilateral environmental negotiations and financing for nature conservation. During his three terms as Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica doubled the size of its forests, made its electric sector 100% clean and renewable, and consolidated a National Park System that has positioned the Central American country as a prime ecotourism destination. In the early 1990s, Carlos worked as Director of Costa Rica’s National Parks Service and is also founder and board member of many environmental NGOs and tropical research institutes. Since the 1992 United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in Rio, he has participated in all multilateral environmental negotiations, as an expert negotiator in UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) and UNCCD (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), and participated in negotiations for the creation and implementation of the GEF and the Green Climate Fund. 

Dr Dia P. Shannon 

Forest Restoration Research Unit (FORRU-CMU), Chiang Mai University, Thailand 

Dia studied direct seeding for her MSc in FORRU-CMU's field trial plot system at Ban Mae Sa Mai and subsequently became the unit's Field Officer. She went on to gain her PhD at Walailak University, Thailand, by applying direct seeding techniques to restore southern lowland evergreen forests, under a Thailand’s Biodiversity Research and Training Program (BRT) scholarship. After attaining her doctorate, she returned to FORRU-CMU as Nursery Manager. In 2012, she became a lecturer in ecology at CMU's Biology Department and she now also runs CMU's Doi Suthep Nature Study Centre and advises research students. Her current research concentrates on forest landscape restoration (FLR) and the improvement of livelihoods.

Dr Paul Smith 

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), UK 

With a career spanning 25 years working in conservation, Paul joined BGCI as Secretary General in March 2015. He is the former head of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) and, during his nine years at the helm, seeds from more than 25,000 plant species were conserved in the MSB. 

Caroline van Tilborg 

HSBC Pollination Climate Asset Management, UK 

Caroline has more than 20 years of experience in financial structuring, project design, implementation and management of a portfolio of renewable energy and landscape restoration projects worldwide. These include the carbon asset creation process and the associated trade in carbon credits with multiple benefits. Some of her recent work includes the assessment of the carbon credit potential of large landscape restoration projects in Kenya, India and Australia, particularly around REDD+, reforestation, sustainable grazing, assisted natural rehabilitation and agroforestry. Her work in large landscape restoration projects is based on the empowerment of local farmers and other stakeholders to develop sustainable practices and business cases that fit within the ecological landscape setting and can be implemented at scale. Caroline enjoys a vast network covering commercial financing institutions, multilateral financing institutions, equity investors and family offices. 

Dr Jean-Christophe Vié 

Foundation Franklinia, Switzerland 

Jean-Christophe is the Director General of Foundation Franklinia, a private foundation whose goal is to improve the conservation status of threatened tree species around the world. He joined the foundation in 2018 to increase its support to organisations which conserve threatened tree species. He is a devoted conservationist with over 30 years of diverse experience including field work in several locations in Africa and South America, scientific research, global policy, grant making and awareness raising.  He holds a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine as well as a PhD in Ecology. His main interest is biodiversity conservation.  Before joining Foundation Franklinia he spent 8 years working in the tropical forests of French Guiana followed by 17 years at IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) where he was responsible for several programmes including global assessments for the Red List of Threatened Species, policy work and grant making mechanisms.