KEYNOTE SPEAKER: DR GUY PRESTON – Alien invasions – update on threat to biodiversity conservation and on status and interventions in South Africa (Monday 3 November)
Dr Preston is responsible for the Environmental Programmes within the Department of Environmental Affairs. He leads a team of 480 people, running 14 programmes that in 2014/15 will provide work opportunities to over 69,000 people, focusing on key environmental initiatives, and with an annual budget of over R2.8 billion. He is responsible for environmental Biosecurity in South Africa – the prevention and control of invasive species.
He was Special Advisor to the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, Professor Kader Asmal, and to his successor, Ronnie Kasrils, from April 1995 to August 2001. He simultaneously initiated and leads a spectrum of Government’s environmental programmes,
With the move of these Natural Resources Management programmes from the Department of Water Affairs to the Department of Environmental Affairs in April 2011, Dr Preston also took management responsibility for the Environmental Protection and Infrastructure programmes (including the Working for the Coast, Working on Waste, People and Parks and Greening and Open-Space Management programmes).
He is also responsible for the implementation of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act regulations on alien and invasive species, and its Biosecurity function for the country – a major function.
He was an Executive Board Member and later Chairperson of the Global Invasive Species Programme. He was also responsible for drafting an African strategy on invasive alien species, for NEPAD.
Prior to joining Professor Asmal, he was head of research at the Environmental Evaluation Unit at the University of Cape Town. His User-Pays Project, looking at options for water and energy conservation, and focusing on visitors to national parks, led to his being invited to be Special Advisor to Professor Kader Asmal.
These programmes have been associated with over seventy national and international awards.