Main content

Alien Invaders

Anne McElvoy discusses alien species with scientists Ken Thompson, Monique Simmonds and Victoria Herridge and farmer John Lewis-Stempel.

Anne McElvoy talks to the biologist Ken Thompson who dismisses attempts to control invasive species and questions the veracity of dividing plants and animals into 'native' and 'alien'. However the Director of the Kew Innovation Unit Monique Simmonds warns that alien pests and diseases can have a devastating effect on much-loved plants, and that it's vital to maintain and support diverse environments. The farmer John Lewis-Stempel records the passage of the seasons in his account of the life of an English meadow and he laments the decline of some of his favourite birds from his childhood. The woolly mammoth used to be native in Europe before it became extinct, and the palaeontologist Victoria Herridge confounds expectations by identifying the smallest mammoth ever known to have lived.
Producer: Katy Hickman.

Available now

43 minutes

Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson, a former lecturer in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield, is a writer and lecturer in gardening and ecology.


Where Do Camels Belong?  The Story and Science of Invasive Species is published by Profile Books.


Ken Thompson

Monique Simmonds

Monique Simmonds is Director of the Kew Innovation Unit, Deputy Keeper & Head of Sustainable Uses of Plants Group.


Kew’s festival of medicinal plants, ‘Plantasia’, runs from 24 May until 7 September 2014.


Monique Simmonds

John Lewis-Stempel

John Lewis-Stempel is a writer and farmer.


Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field is published by Doubleday.


John Lewis-Stempel

Victoria Herridge

Victoria Herridge is a palaeontologist.


The exhibition Mammoths: Ice Age Giants opens at the Natural History Museum in London on Friday 23 May.


Natural History Museum


Role Contributor
Presenter Anne McElvoy
Interviewed Guest Ken Thompson
Interviewed Guest Monique Simmonds
Interviewed Guest Victoria Herridge
Interviewed Guest John Lewis-Stempel
Producer Katy Hickman