2022 County Report for Hertfordshire

Ian Denholm, Alla Mashanova and Astrid Biddle

Normal service resumed in 2023 with a full programme of field meetings led by one or more of the
county’s VCRs. The sites were chosen to combine floristic diversity with opportunities for improving
identification skills. Additionally, we organized a one-day grass identification workshop at the
University of Hertfordshire’s field campus at Bayfordbury, attended by members of the local Flora
Group, newer employees of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT), and Local Wildlife Site
recording volunteers. Following the sad death of Gordon Hanson at the end of 2022, we coordinated
the transfer of his personal, very extensive herbarium to the Bayfordbury campus, pending detailed
scrutiny and potential permanent storage at other locations. Gordon was one of Hertfordshire’s
most accomplished botanists who pioneered studies of alien plants originating from birdseed and
other sources (see obituary in BSBI News 151, pp. 76-78).
As well as dividing up the ‘core’ workload, the three-way joint VCR-ship in Herts helps to expand the
reach and visibility of BSBI, and of botany in general, throughout the county. Thus, Alla Mashanova
as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Herts leads the teaching of skills in plant identification and
ecology to students and staff, as well as acting as a tutor for Identiplant. Astrid Biddle is employed as
an ecologist at HMWT and leads the botanical surveying of Local Wildlife Sites, generating data
invaluable for informing site management plans that also feed back to the BSBI Distribution
database. Astrid also leads on the verification of plant records submitted through the iRecord portal.