Wednesday 21 January 2015

New Year Plant Hunt: the Valiant Effort award

Galium verum at Three Hagges Wood
Image: L. Hawthorne
Some of you may have heard that one of last year's winners in the BSBI New Year Plant Hunt - Leicester - found only 39 spp this year compared to 69 spp last year. Leicester botanists were reassured to hear that they weren't the only ones who had struggled this year in counties where there had been frost and snow in the weeks leading up to the Plant Hunt. And they expressed solidarity with Lin Hawthorne in York, who went out, found nothing, went out again, found nothing...  if there had been anything in flower, our Lin would have spotted it!  

So Lin wins the Valiant Effort Award and here we offer her a chance to share her 3 Botanical Wishes for 2015.

It's "just grass", right?
Image: L. Hawthorne
Lin said "When your fairy Godmother offers you three wishes for 2015, it would be churlish not to accept gladly. This is my prize in the New Year Plant Hunt – Valiant Effort in Achieving Nul Points at Altitude in Driving Wind and Rain on 2nd January 2015.

"Assuming that world peace and a sufficiency of everything for all are taken as universal, here are my own.

"My first wish is never again to hear that planting trees creates new woodland. Without consideration of the ground layers beneath, it is simply a plantation. 

Lin's meadow at Three Hagges Wood
Image: L. Hawthorne
"Having recently moved into the field of ecosystem creation, as a biologist and horticulturist, plants and their associations are my starting point. 

"Under the influence of George Peterken, our Patron, I now believe that the creation of a wood-meadow offers much in addressing biodiversity losses in my lifetime.

 "I wish for integrated and radical strategies to address lost biodiversity - to create a cohesive network across the landscape, a mosaic of woodlands, hedgerows and meadows on farms, in communities and schools.

Ellie using a Longworth trap
Image: L. Hawthorne
"Ecosystem science demands the application of joint scientific expertise, practical skills, and techniques – from those of us with a single species focus to our passions, and those who work with a broader brush.  Collectively we have the knowledge and experience to do this. If we pay attention to detailed preparation and timely, consistent and responsive management, we’re more than half way there.

"My most important wish is that every child should have access to the natural world on their doorstep. There is a valuable place for formal education in the formally designated wildlife sites, but I also preach to that choir that includes all whose curiosity was stimulated by casually kicking through meadows and woods in childhood.  Those of us that remember have a special responsibility to raise the bar for beauty, biodiversity and wonder for our children. Together we can achieve this.


  1. Excellent three wishes, couldn't have wished better than that myself. If there was a fourth one it would be to have much stronger measures to prevent loss of what biodiversity has survived 'progress' so that we don't end up with all our remaining accessible habitats/ecosystems being either restored or recreated, no matter how well and soundly.

    1. An excellent point and well put, thank you Peter.


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