Harry Quicke, Senior Science Fellow, Envu
In this interview, Harry Quicke, Senior Science Fellow at Envu, shares the company's strong dedication to the preservation and revitalisation of biodiversity. He elaborates on how this commitment is being actively implemented across Envu's core forestry, range, and pasture businesses on a global scale.
Envu will also join this year’s World Biodiversity Summit on 21 September, as Summit Partner.
Tell us about Envu.
Envu is a global leader in environmental science, and the sole purpose of Envu is to advance healthy environments for everyone, everywhere. We provide solutions to manage invasive pests, weeds and plant diseases, with a portfolio of products and services that solve problems in mosquito management, professional pest control, forestry, range and pasture, industrial vegetation management and turf and ornamental. Whether fighting pests that cause diseases and illnesses in both urban and rural populations, working to restore and protect forests and rangeland areas, or precisely identifying and treating weeds that encroach on essential public spaces, we constantly strive to keep society safe while striking a balance with nature. Envu was formed as a company in October 2022 when Bayer AG sold its Environmental Science professional business to the international private equity firm Cinven.
When did Envu decide to focus on native restoration as a business opportunity?
Envu has been a leading provider of vegetation and pest solutions for managed landscapes such as urban green spaces, forest plantations, roadsides and railroad infrastructure. Four years ago, we made a strategic decision to expand our portfolio into solving problems in native rangeland and forests. This decision was made based on our desire to focus on the degradation of nature from the spread of invasive non-native species and the continued biodiversity loss from a growing global population. We are pursuing native restoration opportunities in the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.
Can you give examples of the places around the globe where Envu are developing products and services specifically for the purpose of restoring native habitats?
In the rangelands of the Western US, over 40 million hectares have been negatively impacted by cheatgrass. Cheatgrass is an invasive non-native grass species that increases the occurrence and intensity of wildfire, reduces native biodiversity, reduces forage quality and quantity, and limits the land’s ability to sequester and store carbon. With an estimated 30 million hectares of additional rangeland that is at risk of future infestation, and over 400,000 hectares being lost every year, approximately 28% of all Western US rangeland is already impacted or “at risk” of future degradation. Envu has developed a targeted, long-term control program that allows for the restoration of native perennial rangelands in the West by combining patented chemistry (Rejuvra®) and a digital platform (Rangeview™) to reduce and eliminate invasive cheatgrass. Envu’s solutions complement traditional grazing practices and allow landowners to restore and protect their highly biodiverse native perennial rangelands. With a single precision application of Rejuvra providing four or more years of cheatgrass control, and with Rangeview supporting early detection and rapid response by identifying and monitoring cheatgrass infestations, landowners can bring greater resiliency and biodiversity to their native landscapes.
Area on the left shows the release of native perennial forbs and shrubs 2 years after an application of Rejuvra®herbicide to control invasive annual grass. Area on the right is untreated.
In our Brazilian forestry business, we are leaders in providing solutions for forest plantation management, but we are also creating and implementing solutions that allow for efficient restoration of degraded or destroyed native forests. With the Brazilian government committing to restore 12 million hectares of native forest by 2030 under the Bonn Challenge, there is a need to scale and accelerate reforestation efforts with effective technology and tools. Envu is the first company to register an herbicide (Esplanade®) for the specific purpose of native forest restoration.
In a recent study by Dr. Pedro Brancalion from the University of Sao Paulo, a single Esplanade treatment provided a 2x increase in tree biomass compared to multiple mechanical treatments, resulting in a more cost effective and efficient reforestation outcome.
- Harry Quicke, Senior Science Fellow, Envu
Controlling invasive and unwanted grasses and weeds increases native tree biomass, and it also reduces the risk of a wildfire destroying newly planted native seedlings. Through cooperative research with the University of Sao Paulo and others, we have implemented a long-term study to determine the biomass (carbon) and biodiversity outcomes of Envu solutions, and we are engaging with large landowners on landscape-level native forest restoration projects.
Area on the left shows robust development of planted native tree species following an application of Esplanade®herbicide to control invasive grasses. Area on the right has been treated with a conventional herbicide option.
Another example of the Envu native restoration focus is in New Zealand, where there is a significant problem with invasive non-native conifers. Several species of non-native conifers were Introduced to the island nation in the 1880s and have been spreading at an alarming rate. Today, there is an estimated 2 million hectares infested. To assist public and private sector landowners with this growing problem, Envu has registered Method 240SL, which provides effective long-term control of these non-native species, while releasing native grasses and forbs.
Exotic conifers invading grasslands in New Zealand
What kind of commitment has Envu set related to biodiversity protection and restoration?
Within our native rangeland and forest restoration businesses, with 2020 as a baseline year, we set a goal of enabling the restoration and protection of over 800,000 hectares of native biodiversity by 2030. Starting in 2021, we began a monitoring project to capture the biodiversity outcomes on restored rangelands and native forests with a goal of 15% improvement of native biodiversity at 5 years post-treatment.
Envu was founded in 2022 as a company built on a half-century of environmental science experience for the sole purpose of advancing healthy environments for everyone, everywhere. They offer dedicated services in: Professional Pest Management, Forestry, Ornamentals, Golf, Industrial Vegetation Management, Lawn and Landscape, Mosquito Management, and Range and Pasture. Across each of our lines of business, they are partnering with their customers to ensure that nature and society can thrive together.
About the Author
Harry Quicke is Senior Science Fellow at Envu, a company focused on developing solutions to accelerate the restoration and protection of native ecosystems. He has prior experience in managing tree plantations in South Africa followed by an academic career in the US focused on quantifying outcomes from efficient vegetation management for establishment and maintenance of tree plantations. His industrial experience includes stewarding and developing products for forest establishment, rangeland restoration and crop protection. Currently he focuses on restoration of western US rangelands. Harry has a BS in Forest Science from Stellenbosch University, a MS in Economics and a PhD in Forest Science from Auburn University