|BSBI volunteer recorders identifying
and recording the plants they spot
This initiative - botanical heatmaps - has been developed by BSBI in partnership Natural England, and I asked BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker to tell us more.
LM: So Kevin, what exactly is a botanical value map/
|BSBI's Kevin Walker recording sedges
Image: P. Stroh
"We have produced a number of
maps for the ‘Right Tree, Right Place work’: maps for rare, scarce and
threatened species at 100 x 100 m resolution, habitat indicators at 1 x 1 km resolution
and an overall ‘botanical value’ map which combines all these datasets”.
LM: What should a landowner do if they are thinking of
planting trees on their land and want to make sure they are going to end up
with the right tree in the right place?
|Tree-planting was due to take place on this
species-rich peatbog in Cumbria, which
supports sundews and cranberry
Image: K. Watson
LM: How did the idea for the heatmaps come about?
|Botanical heatmap showing
priority plant species
(yellow = high priority)
LM: As you mentioned before, the data underpinning the heatmaps comprises all the plant records that have been collected over the years by
our wonderful BSBI volunteer recorders. How many records are currently held in
the BSBI database?
KW: "As of today, the BSBI database contains a staggering 50,688,285 records, mainly collected by our amazing volunteer recorders, who go out in all
weathers across Britain and Ireland and submit their records to the BSBI Distribution Database. In recent years this total has been augmented by about a million more records each year, and all these records are being increasingly used for nature conservation and scientific research".
|Aspens silhouetted against the skyline:
the right tree in the right place!
Image: P. Smith
KW: "We produced a great summary in our membership newsletter, BSBI News – and we've made the article freely available here so non-members can read it too. On the Natural England website, there's also a technical report and a blogpost about the heatmaps".
LM: Thanks Kevin, readers can download a copy of the technical report by following the link on this page.
Many thanks to Kevin for telling us about the botanical heatmaps and for all the hard work that he and our partners at Natural England, the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission have put in over the past 18 months to launch this exciting new initiative. And of course, thanks again to our fabulous volunteer recorders, without whom those botanical heatmaps would be completely empty!
Finally, a call-out to any readers who haven't yet tried botanical recording but are inspired by hearing about the botanical heatmaps - there's lots of help and support on offer if you want to get involved: Check out these helpful hints to get you started, these resources to help you identify the wildflowers you spot and then try using the form on this page to submit your first ever plant record.