Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Supporting botanical collections IV. 

Dr John Bailey (aka "Professor Knotweed") and LTR Herbarium volunteers
Image: L. Marsh
Martin Godfrey (active BSBI member who sits on our Science & Research Committee) has been in touch to say he is "Delighted that you are giving so much publicity to volunteers and herbaria at the moment." Martin volunteers in the Herbarium at Stoke Museum, so he gets to work with county recorders and his local Wildlife Trust to sort out ID issues.

But he also says "As one who has a 'speaking part' at Wednesday's Linnean Plenary [on the role of museums and collections in biological recording], I feel very strongly that one of the reasons that museum collections in general - and natural history in particular - are under threat is under-use. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could get more BSBI (and other recording group) members to make more use of the collections?"


Beginner botanists learn how to use the Herbarium
at University of Leicester.
Image: L. Marsh
I couldn't agree more, Martin! One way we have tried to do this in the Herbarium at the University of Leicester is to set up two 'Museum-to-Meadow' projects which link up locally-collected specimens (Primavesi's roses and elm specimens collected by Clive Stace just before Dutch Elm Disease hit VC55 in the 1970s) with local group field meetings to try and refind those populations. 

But we have found that embedding herbarium sessions in our local botany courses (beginner and intermediate) and hosting winter ID sessions and training sessions in the Herbarium have been the most successful ways of encouraging local botanists - at all skill levels - to use their local herbarium as a resource and to consider volunteering.  

Maybe participants in tomorrow's meeting at the Linnean Society will come up with some other ideas we can all try out?