Sunday, 8 June 2014

BSBI Summer Meeting: Part Eight

Botanists at Keltneyburn
Image:. J. MacKinnon
Three cheers for Jay MacKinnon who responded to the call for photographs from the Perthshire meeting by sending the ones on this page and also here. This gives me a chance to tell you a bit more about the programme - it wasn't just guest talks and fieldtrips

There was much more on offer (there always is at a big BSBI meeting) - I'll just mention in passing that there were botanical books for sale, and on the first evening, after the slap-up dinner in the Baronial Hall, our botanists had only to wander over the road to the Birnam Institute, where, according to Jon Shanklin "Lorne Gill showed stunning wildlife images from the locality, which had been taken by himself and his son Fergus.  The fact that many of the images featured in Wildlife Photographer of the Year is testimony to their quality".


Carex capillaris Hair Sedge;  Schiehallion, 7/6/2014
Image: J. MacKinnon 
But another reason to come to a big BSBI bash is to catch up with all the latest news: informally - our meetings offer serious opportunities for networking! - and by attending talks and presentations about BSBI projects. So here are Jon Shanklin's notes (unedited, so may be subject to change!) on a talk given on Thursday by Scottish Officer Jim McIntoshdescribing plans for Atlas2020, both generally and with reference to recording in Scotland.

Jon wrote "The recording strategy is to record all vascular plants in at least a sample of tetrads in every hectad.  With just six field seasons to go it remains a big challenge. The aim is to provide an update on the change in distribution of species. It needs a volunteer project co-ordinator and a paid part time post to work with the volunteer. 


Botanists on the limestone pavement;
Schiehallion 7/6/2014
Image: J. MacKinnon
"The Atlas will provide on-line maps, possibly a separate publication for Ireland, a book on the key findings and updated red lists. It will cover all vascular plants and charophytes and where possible hybrids and difficult/critical taxa (dandelions, hawkweeds etc). The next run of the local change scheme is being delayed until after 2020. The aspiration is to have a draft RPR for all counties. 

"The National Plant Monitoring scheme will start in 2015, and is intended more for "ordinary" BSBI members than for VCRs. Promotion of the Atlas work will be critical, so it will figure in BSBI News, there will be talks at all major meetings, it will be considered by all BSBI Committees and there will be a special website.

Gymnocarpium dryopteris Oak Fern
Killiecrankie 7/6/2014
Image: J. MacKinnon
"Scotland has 23% of hectads well recorded since 2000 (ie have 2/3 or more of plants ever recorded in them); 852 hectads need more recording. However there are a lot of records still on paper or in VCR data files and these need transferring to the DDb. Each VCR needs a plan of action – how many to survey, how many days per year, how many squares per hectad, what recording unit, how to select them etc. Kevin Walker has suggested 5 per hectad, but Jim suggests 3 may be more realistic for remote areas. There is information on the DDb message board.

"Members can help by attending field meetings, perhaps by organising local meetings or setting up your own local recording group. Publicising the message that help is needed can bring people out of the woodwork! Consider going somewhere remote on holiday and surveying a few squares, or adopting a local square to survey. If every Scottish member chose a square each that would cover 170 hectads. Some places that you might think are well recorded aren’t – eg the VCR lives a long way from Edinburgh, which is actually poorly recorded despite having several local botanists. 


Botanists at Schiehallion 7/6/2014
Image: J. MacKinnon
"Last year the Scottish Officer organised a week in Islay, 12 BSBI members went and obtained good coverage of 36 out of 180 tetrads. It’s a good learning opportunity and can be great fun. There will be visits to Shetland and many other far flung parts of Scotland. Jim is considering have specific Atlas 2020 recorder (s) for remote places, eg Jura. Even in apparently dull tetrads, new County records can be found.

"There are plans to have a Flying Squad to target under-recorded parts that are particularly challenging. A small budget may be available to assist with travel costs. Good recording in a county often coincides with the home of the VCR, with more distant spots less well covered. Local Natural History Societies may help, and Park authorities or national agencies may offer funds. Jim’s post is due for renewal in the autumn and the extension will include support for Atlas recording.

"There will be more MapMate workshops and support, including developing the Handbook.  There may be volunteers to enter records into MapMate or possibly funding to pay contractors".

Thanks again to Jon for the notes and - isn't it nicer reading this page when it's adorned by lovely images like these? Many thanks again to Jay for showing us what delights some of us missed. Er... hang on a minute?! We're thanking him for taunting us with his Oak Ferns and his Hair Sedges? Surely some mistake... :-)