Thursday, 20 April 2017

Scottish Newsletter: spring issue now out

Norwegian Mugwort photographed
on Cul Mor by Simon Harrap:
winner in the 'Rare Species' category of the
BSBI Photographic Competition 2016 
This year's issue of the BSBI Scottish Newsletter is now out and features 56 pages of botanical delights. 

You can download a free copy from the BSBI Scotland page or (in return for a small donation to BSBI) our Scottish Officer Jim McIntosh will arrange for a print copy to be sent to you - his email address is   

Inside this new issue you will find a report on last November's Scottish Annual Meeting, Jim McIntosh's annual report (also available via the BSBI Scotland page), an obituary of Eric Meek, details of BSBI's annual photographic competition, dates for national and local field meetings...

There are also items which have not previously been covered elsewhere on the BSBI website, such as an article by David Welch titled 'Another Scottish specimen of Rubus arcticus', a crossword, and an article by Angus Hannah (editor of the BSBI Scottish Newsletter and County Recorder for the Clyde Islands) titled 'Hypolepis ambigua - the story so far'. Altogether an excellent read!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Irish BSBI Conference

Enjoying the Gardens during lunch-break
Image: J. Denyer
The 2017 Irish BSBI Conference was held last month at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, and you won't be surprised to hear that it was a roaring success.

Prof Daniel Kelly talks about  David Webb
Image: R. Hodd
You can see the programme on the Irish Conference webpage, or read a bit more on this blogpost

The hashtag for the conference proved very popular and lots of people used it throughout the day (to share their enthusiasm for all the great talks and workshops) and afterwards (to tell us what a brilliant day they'd had!)

We were all delighted to see how many newcomers attended: people who had not been to a BSBI meeting before and were not BSBI members. 

Many of them were under-30 so organisers Maria Long (BSBI Irish Officer) and Paula O'Meara (Secretary of the Committee for Ireland) are obviously doing a great job enthusing the next generation of Irish botanists!  

Maria (on left) & rushes expert Lynda Weekes
Image: F. O'Neill 
Robert Northridge MBE, County Recorder for Co. Cavan and joint County Recorder for Fermanagh) emailed Maria after the conference: "The programme was really excellent – very diverse, with something for everyone. The preponderance of younger attendees was really impressive! It’s very reassuring to see such a level of interest, and bodes well for the future. Thank you and well done".

Zoologist Ruth Carden tweeted "Enjoying the #IrishBSBIConference in National Botanic Gardens on a glorious day, a zoologist among friendly botanists"; student Cian White enjoyed the "fascinating talk on David Webb" and Fiona O'Neill tweeted: "Loving the #IrishBSBIConference, learning so much and meeting terrific people".

"All ready to teach aquatics": Joanne Denyer 
Ralph Forbes, the other County Recorder for Fermanagh said "It was really terrific to see so many people there interested in plants and the work of BSBI... I am sure the new and non-members present were impressed and hopefully they will become actively involved. Old fogeys like me need reassurance that a new generation of people exist who are genuinely interested in getting their feet wet and recording plants, and addressing the problems that plants face persisting in a rapidly changing environment".

Waterford Institute of Technology's Horticulture Dept. tweeted:

   Mar 25
Great day at the in Dublin today. Will be encouraging our students to attend next yr. Hort & botany an ideal marriage!

And finally, delegate Colm Clarke put it most succinctly of all: "It was a cracker of a conference". 

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Survey of Scottish saltmarsh plants

Many thanks to BSBI Scottish Officer Jim McIntosh who got in touch to tell us about a newly published survey of Scottish saltmarsh plants, to which Scottish County Recorders such as Ian Strachan (Westerness) and Theo Loizou (Angus) contributed. 

Over to Jim:

"From 2010-2012 all known saltmarshes larger than 3ha were surveyed across the Scottish mainland and offshore islands, to compile the first detailed comprehensive national survey of this habitat in Scotland. 

"All saltmarsh and brackish swamp was mapped using the National Vegetation Classification. All mapped areas were digitised to a 1:4,000 scale GIS database. The condition of each saltmarsh site visited was assessed. 

Sea Aster (on left) and Sea Arrowgrass
Image: S. Bungard
"In total, 249 sites were visited and 7,704ha of saltmarsh were recorded and mapped. Click on the link to download the SNH Commissioned Scottish Saltmarsh Survey Report.

"In the process some 20,526 records of vascular plants were made in 34 vice-counties and these have been painstakingly extracted and tidied up by Stephen Bungard (County Recorder for North Ebudes) and uploaded to the BSBI Distribution Database by Tom Humphrey". 

Jim and Stephen also forwarded the link to Iain Macdonald and Stewart Angus, BSBI's contacts in Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), and Iain replied – “A brilliant piece of citizen science effort this Stephen. You are putting the rest of us to shame! Thank you very much for undertaking this and for placing the records on the BSBI Database.” Sentiments we can all echo!
Sea-blite in the Hebrides
Image: S. Bungard 

Extra thanks are due to Stephen who provided the images on this page, which also appear in recent newsletters he has published, such as this one and this one

To cap it all, I must tell you that Stephen responded to my request for a photo of the front cover of the Saltmarsh Survey and promptly sent me the image at the top of this page even though he was on a ferry at the time - now there's dedication for you! 

He was returning to his home on Raasay after giving a very successful talk on the Isle of Skye about his work as a BSBI County Recorder (you can find out more on Stephen's blog). Our County Recorders really are an amazing bunch of men and women!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Welsh 'Domesday Book' of plants: part three

BSBI's Welsh Officer Polly Spencer-Vellacott has been in great demand recently from the media. You'll remember that last week she was at University of Aberystwyth talking about BSBI's ground-breaking Rare Plant Registers, and how Wales has just become the first country on earth to have such a register for every single county.

Well, on Sunday morning Polly was interviewed (again) by BBC Radio Wales, this time for their Country Focus programme (the interview starts about 7 minutes in). Here's the link so you can catch up via iPlayer.

This morning, television got in on the act and Polly was interviewed by Gerallt Pennant for S4C. This interview was carried out in Welsh so when it goes out, those of us who don't speak the language will be hoping for subtitles. We'll share the link once it goes live so keep an eye on Polly's blog.

Polly also found time to put together the image on the right, showing covers of all the published Rare Plant Registers and the counties they cover. 

Polly and Andy Jones, Natural Resources Wales,
talking about Rare Plant Registers at the
University of Aberystwyth last week
Image: D. Williams
And she's been carrying out all her usual duties as BSBI's Welsh Officer, supporting County Recorders and active botanists across Wales. To get an idea of how successful she's been with this, head over to the BSBI Wales page, where you can download a selection of reports from County Recorders across Wales, summarising what they achieved (with Polly's help) during 2016. 

Many thanks to our colleagues at Natural Resources Wales for their continued funding which has helped make all the above possible. And of course thanks to Polly herself! You can follow her on Twitter here and her blog is here.   

Friday, 31 March 2017

Think globally, record locally!

At NFBR conference 2016:
 with Sue Townsend, David Roy, Keiron Browne...
Image: L. Marsh
Jodey Peyton, the woman behind last year's successful BSBI Exhibition Meeting, has been in touch to remind us about this year's NFBR conference, to be held jointly with ALERC. The title of this year's event is 'Think globally, record locally – effective biological recording at the scale needed' and it takes place in Nottingham, with a conference on Friday 5th May and choice of two field excursions on Saturday 6th May. Details and a booking form are now available here

Martin Harvey of NFBR said "Thanks to carefully designed national recording schemes, novel data analysis methods, innovative use of technology and the efforts of thousands of dedicated recorders, we have a reasonably good understanding of the state of the UK’s biodiversity and the need for conservation action.  But do we have the data we need to inform decision-making at the range of geographic scales necessary to protect species and habitats?" Find out at the 2017 NFBR and ALERC Conference.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Celebrating the life of J.D. Hooker

J.D. Hooker
Image courtesy of Kew Gardens
Many thanks to Mark Nesbitt at Kew Gardens for alerting us to "The Making of Modern Botany", a one day meeting to celebrate the life and work of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker P.R.S., Victorian botanist, plant hunter and Director of Kew Gardens.

The celebration takes place on 30th June 2017, 9.30am to 5.30pm, with an evening event 6pm to 7pm, at the Jodrell Lecture Theatre, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Mark says "This event will appeal to anyone with an interest in the history of science, particularly botany, botanical illustration, exploration and empire. It will also present an attractive programme for those interested in the history of Kew Gardens as well as scientific work being carried out today at Kew and beyond.

"There will be a varied programme of talks and an opportunity to see Joseph Hooker collections behind the scenes at Kew. Leading scholars and researchers will consider Joseph Hooker's place in the history of science as well as his continuing influence on current botanical research in related fields. There will be lunchtime tours, including behind the scenes in the archive, the Herbarium and highlights of material on Joseph Hooker.

"Delegates are invited to an evening event at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art (from 6pm) for a chance to see 'Joseph Hooker: Putting plants in their place', an exhibition showcasing Joseph Hooker's work through Kew's unique historic collections.

"Price: £25 adults. £15 students. Prices includes entry to the Gardens, lunch and refreshments as well as evening view of the exhibition 'Joseph Hooker: Putting plants in their place'. The evening view of the exhibition is included in the event price (but please make sure you select the ticket that includes this option when booking your ticket).

"Further details and booking information can be found here and any queries directed here."

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Welsh "'Domesday Book" of plants: part two

BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker
talks about Rare Plant Registers
Image: P. Spencer-Vellacott 
Postscript to yesterday's report about the event in Aberystwyth to mark Wales becoming the first country in the world to publish a Rare Plant Register for every county. 

BSBI Welsh Officer Polly Spencer-Vellacott appeared on BBC Radio Wales yesterday evening to talk about Rare Plant Registers. You can catch the interview here (starts at 1hr 54 minutes in).

You can also read Polly's write-up of the day's proceedings here on her blog.

Don't forget that you can download many of the Rare Plant Registers, either from the relevant county webpage or from this page, which also has details of the Registers which are only available as books to purchase.