This will be a truly unique event in an amazing location! An opportunity to: exchange ideas; to debate contentious issues; to set challenges and goals for our work; to develop more effective collaborations within the international community; to build greater camaraderie among researchers within discipline areas; to better link "invasion ecologists" and "weed scientists"; to increase the level of inter-disciplinary research; and to help our emerging researchers to more rapidly take leading roles. In short, to influence and then help to drive the international research agenda for weeds and invasive plants (here onwards simply "weeds"). This workshop, by deliberately stimulating debate among a small group of scientists (a maximum of just 30 people), will offer you opportunities that traditional conferences and workshops have never given you! You will have the time and the opportunity to think, to discuss, to argue, to challenge one another (in a good-spirited way), and together to reach conclusions about the best ways forward. You will do this with some of the world's top weed researchers and, critically, with a strong contingent of our best young scientists. You will participate (every attendee will give given a specific role), often in very innovative ways. You will do this in an outstanding venue, surrounded by national parks, mountains and forests. Weather permitting, we will spend time in the open air and you will not be forced to listen to endless papers in dark, air-less conference rooms. You will work hard but you will have a great amount of fun! Everyone will end up as a co-author on at least one scientific paper. This will be like no other weed workshop that you have ever attended before!
Why give up a week of your valuable time? Weeds and invasive plants cost society a great deal of money and have huge environmental impacts worldwide, in just about every ecosystem. Researchers internationally have sought ways to manage them (chemically, biologically and physically) and we have studied their biology, ecology and impacts. Most weed researchers share a belief that understanding weeds - through research - will lead to their improved control. But has this truly occurred? After many decades of research we are continually out-smarted by weeds: herbicide resistance is rife; different weeds take over as we change our management systems; and new species invade from overseas. Areas of research have waxed and waned; research funding and number of researchers have been reducing; but managers are still desperate for answers. There are few research teams with critical mass: most weed researchers work as individuals. There are few truly multidisciplinary teams. The various branches of weed research have often lacked clear aims and directions - other than to generate better understanding and improved weed management. In many areas researchers are unsure which directions to head and many papers lack clear questions and hypotheses. The result has been that weed research has developed as what ecologists would call a correlated random walk rather than as a series of strategic, targeted steps. And young scientists do not see weed science as an exciting, challenging career. We must work in smarter ways; we must work together more effectively; we must recruit the best young scientists; and to do this we need to better develop and articulate our immediate objectives.
Both the youth and the experienced members of the weed research community will come together in the Spanish Pyrenees in June 2014 for an experience that will hopefully change both your future and that of weed research.
The workshop is co-organised by the ANdiNA group of international weed/invasive plant scientists and the European Weed Research Society and is sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia.
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