Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Christmas message 2018 from BSBI President Chris Metherell

Chris Metherell chatting to
broadcaster and conservationist
Chris Packham

Image: Andy Taylor
"Time flies past. It seems only yesterday that I wrote last Christmas's message! 

"And lots seems to have happened. Last year I mentioned that the BSBI had objected to a new golf course at Coul Links, East Sutherland. The process is still grinding its way through the system but at least it's not been finally approved yet.

"Now for the Christmas message. 

"Many members and supporters will know that I'm on a herbaria mission at the moment. 

"I've been beavering away updating the BSBI's information on these fantastically valuable resources. 

"You can see the fruits of my labours on a spreadsheet, available to view here and via the new Herbaria page on the BSBI website, where you can also find links to a range of herbarium-related resources: videos, articles, help sheets, websites...  

Chris looking at
eyebright specimens in the
 herbarium at Univ. Reading
while researching the
Eyebright Handbook
"Although there have been some closures in the last 10 years or so, not too many have been really devastating. 

"However it seems to be the loss of university herbaria which is particularly worrying. 

"Durham is rumoured to have been discarded with the loss of 20,000 sheets, including not only many 19th century collections but also the herbarium of D.H. Valentine. 

"The University of East Anglia may also have gone, but no-one seems to know where. If you have any info about this - or about changes in any other herbarium in Britain or Ireland - please contact me

"In some ways however the results are pretty good. Just under 170 herbaria are probably still open and just over 60 extras might still be hanging on. 

"So, your local herbarium will probably be feeling lonely this Christmas. Its curator may feel unwanted. 

Chris at the BSBI Exhibition Meeting 2018
with President-elect Lynne Farrell
Image: L. Marsh
"So, if you meet up with friends to do the New Year Plant Hunt (and I'm sure you'll be doing that - I certainly will!) why not arrange to meet up again later in the month and visit your local herbarium? 

"And if you do, write to me at herbaria@bsbi.org and let me know how you got on there. Take some photos too if you can!"

Merry Christmas from Chris Metherell, BSBI President