23 May 2017 – CABI has won a gold medal for its first ever solo exhibit at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show – an educational display entitled Nature vs Invader that looks at natural solutions to invasive plant problems, and displays some of the UK’s most invasive alien weeds including Japanese knotweed.

The exhibit was the vision of young CABI scientist, Suzy Wood, currently reading for a PhD in ecology sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). She wanted to show the impact of invasive alien weeds on the UK’s environment and infrastructure, including Japanese knotweed on property prices, buddleia on the railway and Himalayan balsam on riversides.

“I liked the idea of communicating CABI’s work on invasive species to a wider audience, helping people learn more about the option of natural control of invasive weeds. We applied last year to exhibit, and it’s been the perfect opportunity to showcase the science of biocontrol and connect with people who are already passionate about plants and the environment.” – Suzy Wood, Research Scientist, CABI

Created for the educational ‘Discovery Zone’, the exhibit shows how plants can spread and cause problems when moved from their native habitat to a new one, with no natural enemies like diseases and insects to keep them in check. The ‘biological control in action’ part of the display shows a sustainable alternative for controlling invasive species using natural enemies from the invasive species’ native range, rigorously tested to ensure they pose no threat to the new ecosystem, to effectively control invasive weeds over the long term.

“We’re absolutely delighted to be honoured with a Gold at Chelsea. It is a credit to the whole team, but also a credit to the RHS who allowed many of their prohibited species into this most prestigious of shows. Invasive species are an issue for all of us globally and we hope that our display helps get the message out that all is not lost, even for the worst invaders.” – Dr Dick Shaw, UK Country Director and Regional Coordinator Invasives, CABI

We wish to acknowledge the support of our sponsor, NERC, for helping to fund the CABI exhibit.

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