Tuesday 24 March 2020

COVID-19: responses from BSBI staff, officers and trustees

Bluebell wood in Herts.
Image: I. Denholm
You will probably be aware by now that, in order to comply with Government advice and to reduce the risk of transfer of the Covid 19 virus, BSBI’s Board of Trustees decided last week that all centrally-organised BSBI events, either indoor or outdoor meetings, will be cancelled until at least the end of May. 

They added “It is possible that this will need to be extended. We will review the Government's ongoing advice and update this guidance regularly on our website.

“For anyone booked on a centrally-organised BSBI event that is cancelled, they will be refunded any fees paid to BSBI”.

Local Botanical meetings
County Recorders are cancelling this year’s locally-organised field meetings, at least until the end of May, with immediate effect and until further notice. To find out more, please use the links on the Local Botany page to visit your county page and/ or contact your County Recorder. Many of the county pages also feature a range of local resources (county Floras, Rare Plant Registers, newsletters etc.). So, this is a good time to do some background reading about the plants in your area!

In these challenging times, we’d also like to bring you a message from our President, Lynne Farrell, and then some suggestions to help you keep in touch with the botanical world online:

Wood anemones in a 
Leicestershire wood, 21/3/2020
Image: L. Marsh
A message from the BSBI President
“Following Government advice issued on 23rd March, I am now planning to stay at home and focus on validating records that BSBI members have submitted for the Atlas 2020 project. Everyone has been zealously recording for the past few years and all those records have now, fortunately, been submitted.

“Those of us lucky enough to have gardens may simply want to enjoy looking at plants again, rather than making detailed notes, but personally I always make notes and take photographs of what appeals to me in both a scientific and artistic way, so this is an option open to any of you with a garden.

“If there is a Rare Plant Register available, why not have a look at that and perhaps make plans to visit some of these interesting habitats and species and update some of the records, later in the year if/ when Government advice permits. 

“Botanists are a resilient group of people so I am sure you will be planning what you can do in light of the restrictions and Government advice, which you can keep an eye on here”. 

Great advice from Lynne! More info and helpful tips below but first, enjoy this gorgeous photo, an entry in the 2015 BSBI Photo Competition, taken by Mike Beard: if you’re not sure what tree this is, we have another blogpost in the pipeline that may help!


Resources to see us through
There are still some plant-related activities we can enjoy while we are staying safely at home and going in to our gardens (if we are fortunate to have gardens). BSBI’s online presence and website provides options for connecting with other botanists and contains a huge array of tools, resources and information you may find useful at this time. Examples include:
  • webpage providing a host of videos containing plant ID tips. If you know of any good plant ID videos not shown here, send us a link and we'll include them!
  • Our 'Get Started' page for beginner botanists features reviews of plant ID books currently in print: why not help mentor the next generation of botanists by reviewing a plant ID book? Email me if you’re interested.
  • In your own garden, are you noticing any ornamental plants showing signs of invasiveness? Plant Alert is a project aimed at discovering which garden plants have the potential to become invasive and problematic in future. Upload your photos and records to the Plant Alert website.
  • Did you know that photos entered in to this year’s BSBI Photo Competition don’t need to have been taken this year? This would be a great time to go through your archived photos and see if you have anything suitable to enter! 
  • If you’re looking after primary school-age children at home, and have access to a garden, do check out the Herbology Hunt spotter sheets.
  • While indoors, we have an archive of older publications, free to browse – take a look: https://archive.bsbi.org/
  • Wild Flower Hour is a public participation exercise where botanists share images and discuss via Twitter the wild or naturalised plants they’ve found in bloom that week. Plants you’ve seen through your window or in your garden also count for Wild Flower Hour!
  • Social media provides a great way of catching up with fellow botanists without running the risk of... catching anything unpleasant in the process! If you've turned down Twitter, ignored Instagram or feared Facebook until now, maybe this is the time to dip your toe in the water? 
So, stay safe and stay in touch! Maybe leave a comment below if you have other suggestions to help fellow botanists cope with these challenging times?  Let’s end with another fabulous plant photo, this time from ace flower photographer Karen Woolley (thanks Karen!) and look forward to blue skies, sunshine and flowers ahead: 

Greater stitchwort photographed last week
by Karen Woolley @Wildwingsand 

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