Saturday, 31 December 2016

Communicating the BSBI message in 2016

Jane Houldsworth after a meeting
 with BTO, January 2016
Image: L. Marsh
It's Hogmanay and my first as BSBI's Communications Officer, so it seems like a good time to spill the beans on BSBI and share a few photos I managed to capture this year.

Did you know that behind every successful BSBI field meeting, conference or indoor meeting, every BSBI publication and periodical, every dot on a BSBI distribution map, stands a huge botanical support network drawn from BSBI's volunteers:

Our hundreds of County Recorders and Plant Referees.

Our thousands of members and supporters who go out identifying and recording wildflowers for Atlas 2020, leading training and local group meetings, writing papers and road-resting BSBI Handbooks and ID keys. 

Our Council and committee members, elected officers, Board of Trustees and local group administrators who give up so many hours of their time. 

Oli sits on BSBI Council and Records
 & Research Committee; Jodey sits on
Meetings & Communications Committee

Both sit on the floor after a successful
BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting!
Image: L. Marsh 
Then there are BSBI's staff members - I'm so proud to be on this team, headed up by our amazing Head of Ops Jane 'Superwoman' Houldsworth.

There's the generosity of members who donate to help fund BSBI's work.

And of course the many partner organisations with whom we work, such as the Biological Records Centre/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who hosted our Annual Exhibition Meeting and developed our New Year Plant Hunt app, the Wild Flower Society who support so many BSBI projects and Plantlife, our partners in the National Plant Monitoring Scheme. 

We also benefit from the excellent work of former staff members - a shout-out here to Alex Lockton who did an amazing job setting up the old BSBI website a decade ago in a very different digital landscape. You could say the BSBI shop moved in 2016 to a bigger site with more space and we are adding some great new lines alongside all your old favourites! 

Sue Townsend (on right) of BSBI's Training
& Education Committee visits Lin Hawthorne
 at Haggewoods prior to launching 
new programme of plant ID workshops 
Image: L. Marsh  
Shout-out also to our website developer Craig Morgan whose advice and support since I've taken on looking after the website this year have been above and beyond the call of duty.

Most popular pages on the website this year were our distribution maps and identification resources, with the training, science and resources for recorders pages also attracting regular traffic. More than 1,300 people have downloaded a copy of the 'So You Want to Know Your Plants' pdf since June and the FISC Skills Pyramid is also very popular.

We are also getting the botanical message out via social media - our weekly #wildflowerhour slot has been "trending on Twitter" most weeks, as thousands of people share images of plants seen in bloom during the previous week and I try madly to keep up with them all and confirm/help with IDs where possible, or link to BSBI distribution maps, Species Accounts and New Atlas entries. 

Nick Moyes, co-author of the recent
'Flora of Derbyshire'

We bumped into each other in the field
He had Flora flyers with him!
Image: L. Marsh 
It's great fun and fascinating to see what is coming into flower across Britain & Ireland each week. More experienced BSBI members like Brian Laney and Martin Rand are also very kindly helping beginners with some of their IDs when they can. If you can help on a Sunday evening, 8-9pm, please let me know!

You may also have seen our new Get Involved page for people just getting started with botany, or read recent blogposts about the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, which is suitable for beginner and improver botanists. 

But BSBI is equally the home of the more advanced botanist, for whom we now offer updates from the Science and Training Teams, as well as reports on forthcoming conferences and research opportunities on the revamped News page.

And then there's the New Year Plant Hunt... Happy New Year botanists, here's to a floriferous 2017!

Friday, 30 December 2016

All set for the New Year Plant Hunt

The New Year Plant Hunt app
for mobile phones
Image: Ciara Sugrue
After months of work, everything is all set at this end for the BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt 2017. We're just doing final tests and tiny tweaks on the new website so please take a look and let us know if you spot any typos or misleading instructions.

Work started months ago on the new app, and a version for mobile phones was launched at the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting last month. We can't thank Karolis, David and Markus, our colleagues at the Biological Records Centre/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, enough for all their great work on this. 

We also needed a version for non-techies and people who didn't want to use a smartphone in the field - a BSBI recording card or a hand-written list are still the preferred options for many, and most recorders using the app on their smartphones will also have a recording card, notebook and several pencils for back-up. 

So, huge thanks to the excellent Tom Humphrey, BSBI's Database Officer, software programmer and all-round technical wizard, who has built a New Year Plant Hunt website for us, with the following pages:

  • A Getting Started page: it explains how to submit your records once you are home from the Hunt. Clear instructions (we hope!) talk you through what to do when you click through to our simple data entry form and submit your records.   
  • A Results page: here you can find out which plants have been recorded most frequently and which recorders submitted the longest list.  
  • A front page with an interactive map showing where records have been submitted - click on a 'pin' to see which plants were recorded on each list and by whom; at the foot of the page, we'll be streaming wildflower images you've uploaded; there's a live Twitter feed which displays only tweets using the #NewYearPlantHunt hashtag (for Twittophobes who only want to know about Plant Hunts!); and we're hoping to add a few more features if time permits.
James and the frozen nosegay
Image: Jerry Clough
All the records on the new webpages at the moment are test records so can be ignored - they'll all be wiped on New Year's Eve in readiness for your records flooding in from Sunday morning.

We're also putting together a FAQ for you with questions such as:
Do I record a plant every time I see it or just the first time? 
Answer: just once thanks unless you move to a new location and start a new list.

Lastly, a reminder that if anybody gets stuck trying to use the app, either in the field or when you get home, there are seven of us working shifts at the end of this email address so there will always be somebody to help you if you. If it's urgent, you can always phone us on 0797 197 2529. 

Here's to a great New Year Plant Hunt!

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

New Nature: a new resource by and for young naturalists

Guest blogpost by conservationist and nature writer James Common:

"For quite some time now, environmentalists have lambasted the perceived lack of interest that young people possess for nature: branding us lazy, disinterested, and often rather detached from the wonders that lie in the outside world. 

This could not be further from the truth, though, in the eyes of many, the view of ignorant, social-media obsessed young people, shut away from nature, persists regardless, despite such things standing utterly detached from the truth. 
"The youth nature movement is a thing of beauty: rife with promise, potential, quirky characters and, of course, phenomenal talent. The pioneering steps taken by organisations such as A Focus On Nature are now developing into a tsunami of interest from across Britain.

Three "up and coming heroes" -
BSBI members Ryan, George and Reuben
Image: Kate Garnett
As fresh talents emerge and an increasing number of young people, from all backgrounds, poke their heads above the proverbial parapet and take a stand for the natural world. Each and all utilising their individual talents – whether in conservation, writing, speaking or campaigning – to better the world in which we all live. These people, the up and coming heroes in conservation, ecology, and communication, deserve a round of applause and recognition for their deeds and abilities. As do the intrepid few who set the wheels of change in motion – yes, I am referring, again, to the AFON  team. 

Despite the ample successes of the movement, one thing, thus far, has been glaring in its absence from the proceedings: a media platform dedicated to promoting, supporting, and encouraging said young people. This is something that, through the creation of our new e-magazine, we hope to rectify.

Ryan's talk on BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt,
BSBI Exhibition Meeting 2015
Image courtesy of R. Clark 
The idea behind the e-mag came to me recently, while browsing a popular natural history magazine, springing to mind as I noticed the distinct lack of young writers gracing the glossy pages. Writers who, whether due to a lack of confidence or opportunity, find their passions unrecognised and their voices unheard. Not to fault the magazine - rarely does one start out with the talent necessary to successfully pitch an article to a renowned outlet - that comes later, of course, with nurturing and support.

With a team of incredibly dedicated young naturalists in place, and after careful planning, we are now proud to announce the launch of New Nature – the only natural history magazine written, edited, and produced entirely by the next generation. A magazine we hope to release monthly, for the foreseeable future, and set to contain everything from opinion pieces and traditional nature writing, to reviews, research summaries, trip reports and conservation news. All from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and in addition to interviews with and careers advice from prominent figures and organisations in the environmental field. It is going to be jolly exciting, if a little difficult to get going.

Reuben's exhibit at AEM 2015
Image: W. Arshad
The support for our idea, thus far, has been nothing short of inspiring, and has come from groups such as BSBI and Conservation Jobs, as well as prominent figures in the realms of television and social media. Clearly, there is an available niche for this sort of thing, one which we hope to occupy; by highlighting the work of young people to a wider audience, and by offering support, guidance, and a place for the next generation to express their passions freely. 

We hope, through hard work and perhaps a little blind luck, to turn New Nature into a hub for young people with an interest in nature, while providing the youth nature movement with the platform it so desperately requires, both to instil hope in the older generation and bring the work and views of the younger to a much wider audience.

Interested? If so, there are a number of ways to get involved. Foremost, by contributing your articles, images, illustrations, and other interesting titbits to the magazine. Or by offering advice and support if you are past labelling yourself as a “younger naturalist”. 

George's talk on fern hybrids at AEM 2015
Image: T. Swainbank
We intend the magazine to launch on 2nd January 2017 and would appreciate your help in raising a clamour beforehand, something which you can do easily: by sharing our Twitter and Facebook pages, by talking to friends, by emailing acquaintances and, of course, by sharing this blog. Ultimately, however, we hope that you will read the magazine – which will be made available online on our blog, and emailed out at the turn of each month.

For those of you interested in being added to our email-list and receiving future issues of New Nature direct to your inbox, please email us at, or get in touch with myself or another team member (details can be found on the blog). It is not going to be easy - starting something such as this on a voluntary basis seldom is - but we predict that this initial idea will flourish, with your help.

James Common (@CommonByNature) – Founder/Lead Editor

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Message from BSBI President John Faulkner

BSBI President John Faulkner sends Christmas greetings to all botanists:

Fraser Fir Abies fraseri
Image courtesy of Matt Parratt, Forest Research 

“Many years ago, I dreamed of setting up a small side-line business to grow and sell berried holly. I’m glad I didn’t. Even in retirement, December is busy enough without the additional pressure it would have brought on us. As it is, the birds regularly descend on our crop of holly berries on about the 10th December. Maybe this is when the hordes of blackbirds and fieldfares invade from NE Europe? This year, we would have had no berries left had it not been for Gillian’s foresight in covering a few sprays with polythene bags. The bags acted as local bird-scarers and any berries within about 1 metre of them were left alone. So we will, after all, have holly with which to decorate the house before the second invasion (i.e. the family) arrives from the east.

“We also have a Christmas tree, which is a Fraser Fir. I’m told this is the favoured Christmas tree in the White House. It is a local species there, being a native of the Appalachians. We have no local native conifers here in Ireland. The “nearest” would be a Scots Pine, but it does not have an ideal form for decorating. Fraser Firs are dense and quite narrow with soft blunt needles." [LM: find out here about the tree John chose last year and how to ID it!]

Field Meeting at Drumnaph NR, Co. Derry, 2016
John on right.
Image: Donna Rainey

“Had it not been for the label, I doubt whether I would have been able to identify our Fraser Fir. Like many other plant genera, the fir genus Abies is a large one with relatively small differences between the species. It is very difficult to teach yourself from books alone how to identify groups like this. Much more satisfactory is learning under the guidance of experts. 

"One of BSBI’s great strengths is that it gives you the opportunity to learn from expert botanists. During last year, experienced and expert BSBI members devised and ran innumerable formal and less formal training courses, led hundreds of outings, and identified thousands of difficult specimens.  A big “thank you” to all those who made this possible! In an age when expertise is often undervalued and occasionally derided, we are not only grateful but also very proud of you all.

John (centre) at a meeting in 2016
 of BSBI's Publications Committee
Image: Louise Marsh
“BSBI’s main project right now is Atlas 2020. In preparation, we are compiling a comprehensive and up-to-date record of plant occurrence throughout Britain and Ireland. With three years to go, the BSBI Distribution Database now has some 46 million plant records. Botanists in every corner of the land from Shetland to Cork and Anglesey to Kent have been out recording in droves to ensure that this project is a success. This is already a huge achievement, and all of you who have taken part deserve congratulations for the enormous effort you have put in. There are still three years to go, and coverage remains somewhat patchy, especially in remoter areas, so please keep up the great work!

John and botanists at Whitepark Bay
BSBI Summer Meeting 2015
Image: L. Marsh
“Nearly all of BSBI’s recording and outreach is done voluntarily, and particular thanks go to more than 100 expert plant referees and almost 200 County Recorders without whose support and expertise the Society could not function. We also have a small and hard-working staff who, with help from the Officers, Trustees and Committees, maintain the organisation and its programme of meetings, produce its publications, look after its finances and keep it moving forward. 

I would like to reassure all of you that, even if your work is sometimes invisible, it is always valuable, and always appreciated.  The Society as a whole is very grateful for – and sometimes amazed by – your dedication and the huge contribution you make.

“Whatever your role in BSBI (if any), and whether you are invading or being invaded, I send you very best wishes for a happy Christmas, and for good botanising in the New Year”. 

Friday, 23 December 2016

A Focus on Nature

AFON at Birdfair: 2014, 2015 & 2016.
Image: Beth Aucott
Here's a real Christmas treat for you - Ryan Clark tells us about A Focus on Nature, the UK's largest youth nature network.

Ryan is well-known to News & Views readers; he is a highly-valued member of BSBI's Meetings & Communications Committee, has written many excellent blogposts for us and has co-ordinated the New Year Plant Hunt since January 2015, during which time it has blossomed into a much-loved fixture in the BSBI calendar. 

Ryan exhibited at BSBI's Annual Exhibition Meeting in 2014 about his own botanical recording work and in 2015 he offered a poster and a talk about the New Year Plant Hunt. But this year we were delighted to offer him a platform to tell us about A Focus on Nature and you can download his exhibit from this page. Now over to Ryan to find out more: 

"It is often said that there are no young naturalists in Britain anymore, and while it is true that an alarming number of young people are increasingly disconnected with the natural world, there are still lots of young naturalists out there doing wonderful things. There are many different programmes to engage young children with the natural world, but there is a lot less to support teenagers already interested in nature. I became properly interested in wildlife as a teenager and found it very difficult. I was seen as weird for being interested in nature and therefore hid my interests for fear of being isolated. I then discovered a group called ‘A Focus on Nature’, a group for which I now sit on the committee.

Ryan engaging in outreach: on BSBI's stand
at Big Nature Day 2015,
Natural History Museum, London.
Image: Louise Marsh
"A Focus on Nature (AFON) is the UK's largest youth nature network. It brings together young people in Britain between the ages of 16 and 30 who are interested in the natural world. AFON has members from all over the UK and gives young naturalists a voice. We have collectively produced reports such as ‘Vision for Nature’ which describes young people’s vision for the natural world in 2050. We are also one of the organisations involved in ‘State of Nature’. This really is a movement and together the group is growing (as shown in the photo above) to achieve bigger and better things each year. 

"Apart from campaigning, AFON helps set up mentoring relationships in order to allow young people interested in the natural world to learn from more experienced people. We have also had guest blogposts giving members a chance to learn from those in the conservation sector about how to get into these roles. AFON also runs competitions to allow members to win prizes kindly donated by other organisations. We also run workshops in order to learn from one another and more experienced naturalists; for example, there have been workshops on rewilding and on insects recently.

BSBI Meetings & Communications Committee
planning for the Annual Exhibition Meeting.
From left: Sarah, Ryan, Ian & Kylie
Image: L. Marsh 
"The social media presence of AFON is also rather impressive and gets young people noticed, whether that be through blog posts, posts on Twitter or on Facebook. I do think that perceptions are changing, including within traditional natural history groups. Many organisations complain that they do not attract young naturalists, but they are also not very inviting to them. There is a long way to go but many organisations, including BSBI, are now actively encouraging younger members and this is really great to see. Although I spend a lot of my time doing botanical recording, AFON at the moment is very biased towards animals and we are keen to try and attract more young botanists and mentors that can support botanists in any way they can.

"If you would like to know more about AFON then please follow @AFONature on Twitter or drop us an email at". 

Many thanks to Ryan for telling us more about the excellent A Focus on Nature. Please do get in touch with them if you are either under-30 and interested in the natural world, or over 30 and can help with mentoring. Let's offer our young naturalists all the support we possibly can in 2017!

Monday, 19 December 2016

BSBI Training Grants help botanists in 2016: Part Three

Following on from Colin's guest blogpost about the grass ID course which a BSBI Training Grant enabled him to sign up for, our next grant recipient is Richard and here's his story: 

Borage with the Plant Formula for
the family Boraginaceae
Image: R. Mabbutt
"I've been interested in plants for a couple of years now and have wanted to take it further than just a mild hobby, and when I was told about the Identiplant course, especially being on-line, I thought this was ideal: a chance to study and still work. I'm not from an academic background and have worked as a buildings maintenance engineer; plumbing, electrics etc. for many years. It's not a very well paid job so when I was told I had got the grant I was over the moon. 

"You get an assignment unit once a fortnight consisting of a PDF and a Word Doc Question Sheet. When completed you submit it to your on-line tutor who then marks it, adding notes, corrections and things to try again. Your tutor is there to ask questions all the while. There is also a forum to chat to other students, but being from my sort of background and used to working on my own I never actually used it. 

"The first three units are about classification, names, terminology and keys. These fascinated me as it was all new to my basic knowledge. The rest of the units are working on plant families. I found the strict academic approach a little difficult at first, but after the first couple were done I found myself looking forward to that fortnightly release of the next challenge.

"Learning how to make dichotomous keys I found hard and my tutor was very helpful, but after the first couple I got the hang of it, looking for two features that opposed to make it definitive, like this:.

1  Lvs 1-2 per shoot,  Fl lobes 3 inner and 3 outer..............Galanthus
    Lvs > 2 per shoot,  Fl lobes not 3 inner and 3 outer.........2
2  Lvs < 5mm width,  Peduncle >5cm length........................Crocus
    Lvs > 5mm width,  Peduncle <5cm length........................3
3  Stamen 6,  Adaxial side of leaf shiny.................................Narcissus
    Stamen 3,  Adaxial side of leaf matt..................................Hyacinthus

"The challenge of having to go and find the plants themselves was a highlight of my weekend and/or following week, then showing how I worked through the keys to get to species was so rewarding. I slightly cheated in unit 5 when it came to finding a Water Crow-foot as I had no luck, but whilst on holiday in France that week I found myself wading knee-deep into a field pond to return triumphant with a sample of Ranunculus peltatus. Learning the terminology as a beginner for me was the most difficult part, but I stuck at looking in the glossaries, and before you know it I was using words to describe parts of plants I never knew existed. I found repeating words and scientific names out loud helpful. Probably a throwback from learning sums parrot fashion at school. 

Lamiastrum galeobdolon labelled with
the key characters to look out for.
Image: Richard Mabbutt 
"As the course progressed I became increasingly interested, so much so, that I was venturing out on my own after I had finished work in pursuit of new plants. Towards the end of the course I was finishing things quicker, so my tutor threw me a couple of hard challenges which I relished. These were not part of the course, but I couldn't thank her enough for it. She was an excellent tutor and encouraged me very much. If you don't finish all the units in the first year, they can be completed in year two. 

"In tandem with Identiplant I also did the Botany for Beginners course in Leicester. This course concentrated more on plants in different habitats and using a range of keys. My favourite ID keys are Stace and Poland, and I've recently bought my first dissecting microscope so I can see the diagnostic characters more clearly. Between the two courses, I feel I now have a good foundation base to build on.

"I have also just completed my first year's NPMS and took part in the New Year Plant Hunt, both of which I will do again in 2017.

"Over the past year I have also become involved with my local botany group (VC55), especially on recording days for Atlas 2020. Being out in the field with others is a great way to learn, and those more experienced are very helpful when I have questions. I've had a lot of encouragement from my Botany for Beginners tutor and also my VCR, who recently sent me out on a successful quest for a Populus nigra that had been found on a hand drawn map in the museum.

"I took my first FISC test in June this year which I thoroughly enjoyed. I am currently on the Plant ID course in Leicester which involves dissection and floral formulas, and in 2017 I shall be looking to do a course for grasses, sedges and rushes as they are one of my weaknesses. Perhaps I'll do better in the FISC next June, and then I will be thinking about working towards an MSc in Biological Recording and a career in botany and/or ecology.

"Next year I'm also looking forward to being able to 'give something back' so I'll be volunteering on the New Year Plant Hunt helpdesk in January, I'll be back on the Botany for Beginners course but this time as a Botanical Buddy (volunteer assistant) and of course I'll be contributing to VC55 recording for Atlas 2020." 

Many thanks to Richard for telling us about his experience of the Identiplant course which he was able to undertake thanks to a BSBI Training Grant. It's great to see how he's used that grant to kickstart his new botanical life - and how keen he is to give something back and support his fellow botanists!

The next batch of grant applications will go live next month, so keep an eye on our Training page and get your application in asap - they get snapped up very quickly!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

What is the Freshwater Habitats Trust?

The Freshwater Habitats Trust (FHT) works to protect freshwater wildlife across the UK. Find out more in this guest post from Becca Williamson, Communications Officer with FHT. 

Adder’s-tongue Spearwort planting
Image courtesy of
Freshwater Habitats Trust
"Our focus is on small water bodies – ponds, streams, ditches – which were historically neglected as larger habitats were assumed to be of greater importance.  Our work over the last few decades has demonstrated that the smaller water bodies really do punch above their weight when it comes to their contribution to biodiversity across a landscape. 

Here are some examples of our work and how we are helping to protect freshwater plants.

Our Flagship Pond project is working to protect the best pond sites across England and Wales. In 2015, a resurvey of ponds surveyed for the National Pond Survey 25 years ago - unimpacted ponds, mostly on nature reserves or other protected land - showed how these sites have degraded and without intervention key habitats and potentially species could be lost. Many of these sites are now Flagship Ponds. 

The Flagship Pond project is supporting site managers and local community groups who are caring for these sites. We are getting surveys done, training staff and volunteers in habitat and species monitoring, putting together management plans, and preparing to carry out vital pond management. 

A Pillwort in the hand is worth two in the water!
Image courtesy of
Freshwater Habitats Trust
At Inglestone Common, Gloucestershire, this involves woodland management to allow cattle to reach the ponds. The cattle will then create the right conditions for Adder’s-tongue Spearwort and many other plants to thrive. Dozens of Adder’s-tongue Spearwort plants were raised from seed collected from the last few plants, on the brink of extinction, and planted in the ponds earlier this year. The grazing is crucial to keep the population self-sustaining.

At Skipwith Common, North Yorkshire, pond management work is planned to allow Pillwort to regenerate from spores and once again carpet the margins of ponds there. The site has great potential as a Pillwort stronghold. The semi natural habitats, free from pollution sources, support great clean water ponds but without regular disturbance or creation of new habitats, the little fern has no future there.

Three-lobed Water-crowfoot
Image courtesy of
Freshwater Habitats Trust
At Hothfield Common, Kent, the creation of new seasonal ponds will make a big difference for Three-lobed Water-crowfoot. Hothfield Common is one of the few remaining sites in England where this plant can be found. Its dependence on clean water and a habitat that is easily drained or made permanent has left it unable to find space in most of the countryside.

To get work like this done at each of the 70 Flagship Pond sites, we are looking to raise £140,000. Take a look at our website to find out more and see the appeal video.

Our PondNet project is a volunteer pond surveillance scheme. It involves monitoring pond quality and change in species distribution, surveying for uncommon species, and keeping an eye on the status of populations of key species, such as Coral Necklace, Greater Water-parsnip, Pillwort, Tubular Water-dropwort, and Starfruit. We run training events for volunteers new to wildlife recording, or those who are looking to increase their skills. In 2017 we will be focussing on surveying for species with restricted distribution, to check on their status at sites where they have been recorded previously. 

PondNet training event
Image courtesy of
Freshwater Habitats Trust
If you are interested in helping with these surveys, please get in touch with the team here. Anyone can help, regardless of experience, as free ID and survey method training will be available for each species. 

Our Million Ponds Project aims to ensure there are once again a million ponds in the UK countryside. 

In Phase 1 we worked with partners to create thousands of new clean water ponds, many designed specifically to support and increase populations of priority species such as Tassel Stonewort and Lesser Water Plantain. 

We also produced a series of factsheets and case studies on creating clean water ponds, and how to get the conditions right to enhance populations of plant such as Yellow Centaury, Coral Necklace, Pigmy Rush, Three-lobed Water-crowfoot, Small Fleabane, Lesser Water-plantain, and Brown Galingale – which now needs updating in light of what we’re learning about the role of shade and trampling by livestock at Cock Marsh Flagship Pond site! These factsheets are available free from our website, providing clear, evidence-based advice on creating ponds that really help wildlife.

We are continuing to work towards our vision of a functioning nationwide network of freshwater habitats where all threatened freshwater plants and animals have recovered and developed sustainable populations. Visit our website and sign up to our newsletter to find out more".

Many thanks to Becca for this guest blogpost and you can see my guest blogpost about BSBI on the Freshwater Habitats Trust website here. BSBI is delighted to work together with partners in the State of Nature coalition to highlight the work we are all doing and to further our mutual aims

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

New Year Plant Hunt 2017: invitation to take part

The new app was launched at the AEM
Image: Ryan Clark
You are cordially invited to take part in the New Year Plant Hunt 2017. 

Details of how to take part are here and you'll see that we are trialling a brand new app this year. It was developed by our colleagues at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and we'd like to thanks Karolis Kaslauskis and Markus Wagner for all their great work. 

At the BSBI Exhibition Meeting last month, Karolis gave us a demonstration of the new app and Markus gave a talk about the various apps CEH has developed to help recorders of wild flowers, including the recent Rare Arable Flowers App and the app for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (BSBI is a partner in this national project, along with CEH and Plantlife).

These apps are helping a new generation of naturalists get more involved with biological recording and for us oldies, they are actually much easier to use than you might expect. 

Markus telling us about CEH apps at AEM 2016
Image: Ryan Clark
If you have an iPhone or a smartphone that uses Android, you can download the app free of charge by clicking the links here

If not, you will appreciate the desktop version that BSBI's Database Officer and software designer Tom Humphrey is currently working on. This will make it possible for you to record plants in the field as usual (using a BSBI recording card or just writing a list) and then upload your results quickly and easily once you get home. 

Karolis gets ready to demonstrate
the New Year Plant Hunt app
Image: Ryan Clark
Tom is also working on a new webpage where we can share with you the latest images sent to us, an interactive map showing where New Year Plant Hunt records have been submitted, and reports on any trends we are spotting or interesting plants to look out for on your patch. The webpage and the desktop version of the app should be ready next week so watch this space.

We hope you will also share images and observations via Facebook and Twitter, as you have in previous years, but only records submitted by the app will make it into our New Year Plant Hunt database, where this year's records can be compared against those from previous years and we can see if any patterns are starting to emerge.   

Last year, 865 of you went out New Year Plant Hunting and we are hoping the new app will help us break that record next month. You recorded 653 species in bloom - I wonder how many we'll find during the 2017 Hunt? 

If you'd like to know more about the Hunt or about the new app, please contact the new Year Plant Hunt 2017 team of volunteers - Ciara, Ian, Kevin, Louise, Richard, Ryan and Tom - at this address: