News and gossip about the society and botany in general. Email us if you have something interesting to report (a new plant find, perhaps) or any questions. Anything written here is not necessarily the considered opinion of the BSBI.
Save St Andrews Botanic Garden (28/4/2013)
St Andrews Botanic Garden is under threat of closure due to insufficient funding. It was established by St Andrews University in the early 1960s and for the past 25 years has been leased to Fife Regional Council who have funded its maintenance and development as an educational and community facility. The lease runs out later this year and the Council is no longer willing to cover all of the running costs.
The Garden is an absolute gem and a wonderful biodiversity resource. It contains >8,000 living plant species. These are displayed in diverse open habitats (Heath, Rock, Woodland and Water) and a range of different glasshouse environments (Tropical, Temperate, Alpine and Hot Desert). It is located in the midst of St Andrews and is open daily to the public.
You can sign a petition against the closure of the Garden by going to:
and clicking on “Sign the Save the Garden Petition”. Couldn’t be easier. The petition closes on 5 May and will be presented to the University in June together with a business plan for the Garden’s future development.
Head of Operations appointed (24/4/2013)
The BSBI is delighted to report that this new position has been taken by Ms Jane Ashley Houldsworth, who will start in June 2013 and will be at the BSBI AGM in Beaumaris.
Jane has a degree in Environmental Science and an MSc in Countryside Management. She is an Associate Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. She spent four years as Lancashire Biodiversity Manager with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust before joining her current employer, ENWORKS, an environmental consultancy/NGO in 2008, where she served as Resources Manager.
Volunteer needed in Romania (12/4/2013)
We are looking for a field biologist who could help with meadow biodiversity surveys of the Tarnava Mare Natura 2000 region of the Carpathians in Romania from 26 June to 6 August and although this is a voluntary position, a flight bursary might be available and we would fund the on site costs for the surveyor. This is a beautiful part of the Carpathians and there is high biodiversity in the region as a result of the traditional farming methods being employed there. We are looking for someone who could help with initially classifying grassland areas into either improved, semi-improved or unimproved grassland and then complete transects to make counts of the 30 indicator species have been suggested in the unimproved meadows.
The person appointed would be leading groups of students who would be helping with the surveys and also learning from the surveyor. The programme is running as part of the Operation Wallacea Biodiversity research programme. Do you know of any boanists who might be interested? If so could they contact me either by email or on 01790 763194 and email me a cv.
Many thanks, Carys Edwards.
Summerfield Books Catalogue (Feb 2013)
... missed the News mailing, but is available here in pdf format.
>> Printable booklet version
Field meeting guidance (22/3/2013)
Meetings Committee has just updated their guidance for field meeting leaders. It includes all the health and safety checks you need to do, as well as instructions on writing up the event afterwards. There are downloadable forms to be completed for each field meeting. Visit the Meetings page for further information.
Mailing list (19/2/2013)
We’ve just added a subscription link to the home page inviting people to sign up to eNewsletters. Technically, we don’t have an eNewsletter yet, but if we start to produce one, it would be good to have a mailing list to send it to. We thought it would be better to ask people to opt in than to use the membership list and then force them to opt out if they don’t want it. Anyhow, do sign up and join the throng! Here it is again in case you missed it...
Illustration Awards (15/2/2013)
We had this in the email:
AOI Illustration Awards 2013 - Call for Entries open until 28 February 2013
The Association of Illustrators (AOI) is delighted to let you know about our annual illustration competition which has expanded its categories to include illustration commissioned for Research & Knowledge Communication.
Entries are welcome from illustrators working across all areas in which illustration is used to communicate information, ideas and knowledge or contribute to research. This includes natural history illustration, wildlife, scientific illustration, forensic imagery, architectural imagery, illustration supporting academic research (for example in archaeology, geology, palaeontology, natural sciences, biological sciences), visual informatics, data-visualisation and graphic facilitation.
Other award categories include Advertising, Books, Children's Books, Design, Editorial & Social Comment, Public Realm and Self Initiated.
Please share this information with your colleagues and networks. Further details about the AOI Illustration Awards 2013 can be found on the website and short video below:
Lancashire Botanists (January 2013)
A new book on Lancashire Botanists George Stabler, James M. Barnes and Joseph A. Martindale.
>> Download the flyer
Ban on aliens (29/1/2013)
The latest attempt to clamp down on non-native species has just been announced by the government, in the form of a ban on the sale of five species of aquatic plants. It is debatable whether that will have much effect on plants that are already widespread in the wild, as most of them are, but most people will think a ban is sensible.
The BSBI has debated the issue of non-native species many times. Opinions vary from welcoming them to being openly hostile to anything not classified as native. The business of eradicating them is apparently worth £1.7 billion annually, which is considerably more than the total budgets of Britiain’s biggest 5 conservation charities combined. A scary thought, when you consider how little evidence there really is of harm. The “cost” to the nation is mostly the cost of eradicating them, which is very different to an assessment of the harm they do.
Nevertheless, given international treaties on the subject, the moves to “purify” Britain’s wildlife are bound to continue, and it seems sensible to avoid introducing plants if they have to be eradicated as soon as they get here. If only because controlling aliens often involves wiping out the native vegetation too, and leaving nothing but bare ground or polluted water - the ideal breeding ground for more non-native species.
Wild Things on the TV (14/1/2013)
We’ve just received the following little plug from Trevor Dines...
Just to let you know that Wild Things, the new Channel 4 series that I’ve been involved with, will begin at 8.30pm on Monday 21st Jan. This new six-part series opens up a completely different view on the world around us, revealing how plants offer an understanding of changing British wildlife. Using maps to show which species have come and gone over the last 50 years, each episode explores a different part of Britain and tells the stories and the science behind the changes.
With help from Plantlife, the Botanical Society of the British Isles, the British Lichen Society and the British Bryological Society, as well as Bangor University and Treborth Botanic Garden, Wild Things aims to introduce maps and change to a whole new audience in an accessible and slightly quirky way. A book, The Wild Things Guide to the Changing Plants of the British Isles: Guide to the Changing Plants of the British Isles, complete with maps, illustrations and more background information, has also been written to accompany the series.
Wild Things has been produced by Welsh independent TV company CwmniDa, Caernarfon, and is their first series for Channel 4. For more information on the series, see:
The book is now available from Amazon and other sources.
8th Plant Life of South West Asia conference (26/11/2012)
Centre for Middle Eastern Plants, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, July 2013.
This conference brings together professional and amateur researchers and conservation practitioners from around the world who share an interest in the plants of SW Asia, and allows collaboration and information exchange. This year we would like to attract delegates from as wide an area and breadth of countries and cultures as possible, and host sessions on a variety of topics of interest to all participants. The conference website outlines these sessions and the confirmed keynote speakers: http://elmer.rbge.org.uk/ploswa8/
Online registration is open, and early bird discounted registration has been extended until the end of 2012. Abstracts and suggestions for workshops can also be submitted through the website.
Enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ash dieback (26/11/2012)
Our thanks to everyone who has sent information to contribute to our ash dieback disease page. This has now been updated to include the new information and to provide more links as other organisations start to get their facts together.
The BSBI was one of the first organisations to give a balanced view of the disease, when the news was full of claims that 90% of ash trees, and 30% of all trees, would die. Others suggested that all woodland ground flora would be destroyed and many claimed that it was all the government’s fault. You can still hear all sorts of nonsensical claims being made, but the furore is at last dying down and the truth is emerging. We are pleased to have provided accurate information and well-informed opinion from the start; and thanks to all the people who responded so positively.
Second Scientific Conference on Modern Phytomorphology (1/11/2012)
... will be held on 14-16 May 2013 in Lviv (Ukraine) on the basis of the Department of Botany of Biology Faculty of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. Especially we invite the scientists specializing in the field of anatomical and morphological studies of plants, fungi and lichens. As well as we invite the scientists, who apply anatomical and morphological data in the investigations of biology and ecology of above mentioned organism groups. The papers will be published as a separated book of conference proceedings. Working areas of conference:
- theoretical bases and history of structural studies on plants, fungi and lichens;
- anatomical and morphological studies on plants, and their application in the other
- fields of botany and ecology;
- anatomical and morphological studies on fungi and lichens, and their application in the other fields of mycology and lichenology.
Working languages: English (preferred),Ukrainian and Russian.
Welcome to Lviv!
Please send your suggestions and comments to email@example.com Please find more information on our website
Big Database maps (31/10/2012)
OK, OK, so everyone likes the Maps Scheme maps! They were fast and clear and, most of all, we are familiar with them. But they were never going to last forever - when we introduced them in about 2004 we said they were only good for 10 years or so. The trouble is that they don’t contain full details of records, just a summary by date class and 10km square. And they never worked quite so well at tetrad scale.
The Big Database holds precise details of all records, and if you have permission you can mark a record unconfirmed and it will disappear immediately. Compare that with having to email me, I tell Quentin, and a few days later he corrects the record by hand. Too expensive and laborious!
So please try to get used to the DDB maps. There is a printable map that can display at hectad or tetrad scale, or a zoomable map which has the same scales for the public, or finer for those who have passwords.
Who can get a password? Well, all county recorders and anyone they approve of, basically. And staff of the country agencies. In essence, anyone who is a genuine recorder will get access if they want it. If you are a records centre or a consultant you will have to persuade your county recorder that you are interested in recording, not just in accessing data. Or better still, work with and through your county recorder who can provide interpretation and expertise.
Academic researchers can also have access under certain conditions. But mostly we will refer you to the NBN Gateway, because the data there has come via the Biological Records Centre and has had more checks on quality and is more consistent (i.e. from completed data sets rather than unchecked, uncompleted projects that are still ongoing).
Any questions, email me. If you really love the Maps Scheme maps, I can give you the password, but beware, they are out of date and will eventually be withdrawn.
The BSBI is implementing changes to its corporate structure, which will necessitate a change of the name of the society. Read more...
A new species, recently described by Mario Vallejo-Marin. Read the paper and the press release.
Nut drought (16/10/12)
Nick Miller writes: SW Suffolk: no acorns, beech nuts or conkers here, though some people say they have conkers. Sweet chestnuts as normal, though late. All Rosaceae, hazelnuts, grapes and elderberries as normal; though hungry squirrels are stripping everything.
BSBI Christmas Cards
Now available from the BSBI Wales page.
When did you first see Miscanthus x giganteus in Britain? We are trying to find out when it was first planted - email David Pearman if you have any information.
Botanical nomenclature course at Kew (2/10/2012)
We were sent the following by Dr Hendrik Gheerardyn of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences:
Have a look now, as the deadline for registration is already on 15 October 2012! Botanical Nomenclature (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 28 January - 1 February 2013), http://www.taxonomytraining.eu/content/botanical-nomenclature-1
To find out more about what they do, visit http://www.taxonomytraining.eu/content/interested-training-delivery.
BSBI in the Daily Telegraph (24/9/12)
A nice mention of us by Ken Thompson in The Telegraph today.
Conference in Heidelberg, November 2012 (19/9/2012)
Just got this missive from the EMBL: I would like to present you the 13th EMBL|EMBO Science and Society Conference - Biodiversity in the Balance: Causes and Consequences, that will take place in Heidelberg, Germany, on the 9th and 10th of November 2012.
The main aim of this annual meeting is to present important areas of life science research in a manner accessible to all, and to promote reflection on their implications. At the same time, it should facilitate a broad dialogue between biologists, behavioral and social scientists, students of all disciplines, and members of the public. We are looking for a wider public for this conference given that we would like to increase our public in order to be able to reach every member of society who could be interested in this field.
For further information about the event, please visit: http://www.embl.de/training/events/2012/SNS12-01/index.html
HC Watson commemorated (17/9/2012)
Hewett Cottrell Watson (1804 – 1881), founder of the Vice-county system for recording the distribution of the British flora, was commemorated on Saturday 15th September with the unveiling of a blue plaque in Firbeck, Rotherham – his birthplace. The event was organised jointly by the Friends if Firbeck Hall and Rotherham Civic Society and largely organised by Valerie Oxley, one of our local members. The plaque was unveiled by our President, Ian Bonner, who spoke briefly about Watson and his contribution to botany. Arrangements have been made for the exhibit about Watson and Firbeck Hall to come to Cambridge for our Annual Exhibition meeting on 24th November.
Filago pyramidata refound on the Isle of Wight (7/9/2010)
Paul Stanley has just found this in v.c. 10 (and a nice photo by Geoff Toone). Not a well known plant - I wonder how many could be hiding elsewhere in Britain?
My experience is that it has been a great year for these little ephemerals which normally die off by summer but this year has been so damp that they have just continued to flourish.
Mystery Woman (23/8/2012)
This botanist was photographed collecting wool shoddy aliens in a field in Worcestershire in the 1950s. Does anyone have any idea who she might be? If so, please email us.