Ireland Officer update
We are delighted to welcome Sarah Pierce back after maternity leave, initially working just one day a week, and to thank Paul Green who has been standing in as Ireland Officer during the past year. Although Paul steps down as Ireland Officer he will continue as Project Manager for the Aquatic Plant & Irish Grasslands Projects until they complete next month. So over to Paul for the latest news about those projects…
Aquatic Plant Project
Earlier in the year we held webinars on the identification of Water-starworts and Water-crowfoots by aquatic plant expert Nick Stewart. We are pleased to announce that Nick has agreed to give a final webinar in the 2021 Aquatic Plant Project series, entitled An introduction to Broad-leaved Pondweed ID on Saturday 23rd October.
This is a free webinar, thanks to funding by the National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS), and everyone interested is very welcome, whether based in Ireland, Britain or elsewhere. Follow this link more information and the booking form.
Irish Grasslands Project
We held two workshops in the Irish Grasslands Project series on Potentillas in September, both by Brenda Harold, BSBI Potentilla referee, and recordings are available here:
- A general introduction to Cinquefoil (Potentilla) grassland species ID and
- The Identification of Potentilla erecta, reptans, anglica and their hybrids
Both recordings are also available via the BSBI YouTube channel and on the project page. Thanks to Brenda and to NPWS again for their support for these webinars.
Rare Plant Project in Ireland
I hope that Irish botanists enjoyed getting involved with the Rare Plant Project in Ireland in its first year. If you didn’t manage to participate then fear not – it is a three-year project and there is always next year! Either way, we are currently taking stock and would appreciate it if all Irish botanists could spare a few minutes to complete this RPPI Project feedback survey. I realise you might not have tidied up all your recording forms and completed those where the target species weren’t found – which is important – and taken stock yourself, so the deadline for feedback isn’t until the end of November.
Scottish HectAd Rare Plant Project
I hope Scottish botanists enjoyed getting involved with the very similar Scottish HectAd Rare Plant Project in its first of three years. We are currently taking stock and would appreciate it if all Scottish botanists, whether they participated or not, could spare a couple minutes to complete this SHARP Project feedback survey. As noted above, it is really important to complete ‘nil’ returns and as you might not have had a chance to take stock yourself, the deadline for responses isn’t until the very end of November.
BSBI Irish Autumn Meeting & AGM
The Irish Autumn Meeting was held on Saturday 25th September, online using Zoom, with more than 80 participants. The programme included great talks on the cultural significance of plants in Irish life by Kevin Whelan, Fragrant-orchid taxonomy and identification by Richard Bateman, rare plant findings from Paul Green, and much more. See the Irish Autumn Meeting webpage for the full programme, and view recordings of the talks on the BSBI Ireland 2021 Autumn Meeting playlist.
Scottish Botanists’ Conference 2021
This year’s Scottish Botanists’ Conference will take place on Saturday 6th November and will be online only. The programme includes talks on the plants of two National Nature Reserves (NNRs); on Beinn Eighe, the UK’s first NNR currently celebrating its 70th anniversary and on 40 years of rare plant monitoring on Ben Lawers. As well as a great selection of shorter talks we also have two very interesting workshops – Introductions to Larch ID by Matt Parratt and to Polypody ID by Rob Cooke.
There will be a repeat of last year’s virtual exhibition format which was very successful. So, it would be great if you would consider producing an exhibit or poster about your most exciting botanical findings in Scotland in 2021. It is very easy to create the virtual exhibit and we can help.
For the full programme details and to book visit Scottish Botanists’ Conference. Everyone is welcome, whether you are a BSBI member or not, so please forward details to interested friends and colleagues and to your local networks and groups.
BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting & AGM
Everyone is welcome at this year’s Annual Exhibition Meeting which will be held via Zoom on Saturday 20th November, with the AGM and some talks to whet your appetite the evening before, 19th November. There will be talks on how BSBI data and interpretation are used by organisations such as the National Trust, Forestry Commission, UK CEH and Natural England. There will also be a panel discussion chaired by Sandy Knapp about how we can build a diverse community of botanists. The programme is here and booking is open.
Exhibitor registration is also open and we invite exhibits on any aspect of British & Irish wild or naturalised plants. As Jim says above, it’s easy to create a virtual exhibit, the meetings team can help if you’re new to this sort of thing and with online meetings there are no restrictions on space and no travel or printing costs to worry about!
You're all welcome at the Exhibition Meeting, whether or not you are a BSBI member, or an experienced botanist, and wherever you are based – hope to see you on the 19th & 20th November!
'Not Found' Records
A County Recorder asks the seemingly simple question how should I record ‘not found’ when we've looked unsuccessfully for a previously known population. Well, it is possible to enter ‘Not Found’ type records in MapMate by entering ‘n’ in the quantity field and hitting ‘return’. The DDb handles MapMate's ‘N’ (absence) abundance code correctly and such records are assigned a status of ‘looked for and not found’ and are excluded from search results and maps by default. To view these absence markers, you would need to add a search filter to explicitly include them by status. Use this DDb query, for example, to help you see absence markers in your VC.
Well documented records of loss or absence are valuable, please always include a comment describing the basis for the record: how and where you searched and perhaps also detailing the last known sighting and suspected cause of the loss. Specify a grid-square reference that is precise enough to encompass only the area that you surveyed. Note that although the DDb treats absence records correctly, MapMate atlases do not always distinguished absence markers from positive records (depending on how they were set up).
The country Field Meeting Secretaries are currently canvassing offers for meetings in 2022. If you would like to hold a meeting, whether to show off a site, help with recording, teach other botanists, repeat a popular meeting or reschedule one cancelled due to Covid, or just to meet other botanists, do get in touch with your local Field Meeting Secretary. Organising a meeting is relatively straightforward – choose a venue and date and send in the details! If you need a leader, BSBI may be able to help find one. The hard part is probably writing the report afterwards as so far, I’ve only received six for 2021 - and I wrote three of them!
There is guidance on all aspects of organising a meeting on the field meetings and indoor events webpage. The document is long and more to be dipped into than read cover to cover. One update that is being added is on Safeguarding. Although we hope that it will never be an issue for us, as a responsible charity BSBI wants to provide clear and simple guidance on the subject. This is being incorporated into the meetings guidance and there is a separate Safeguarding Policy document.
Annual Review 2020-21
Our latest Annual Review includes summaries of what BSBI’s members and active recorders achieved last year. Did you know that by March 2021, there were more than 50 million records in the BSBI Distribution Database? That Welsh recorders found some impressive ‘county firsts’ such as Northern Buckler-fern in Pembrokeshire? That Scottish recorders collected more than 150,000 records during 2020? A huge thank you to everyone who managed to get out recording during a very difficult year!
Spreading the word
Our autumn membership offer has opened (up to 15 months of membership benefits for the price of 12) so if you haven’t yet joined BSBI, now is the time and there is a special package for students with an introductory video about what BSBI has to offer and a subsidised subscription rate. If you are already a BSBI member, you probably know people who would benefit from membership so please send them this post about membership benefits, this sample issue of September’s BSBI News and maybe they would also like this free article by Bob Leaney about identifying knotgrasses?
There are currently 3,340 BSBI members and that total is growing by almost 10% a year!