Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas message from BSBI's President

Chris in the Herbarium at University of Reading
Image: A. Culham
Earlier this month we brought you an interview with Chris Metherell, who on 25th November took over from John Faulkner as BSBI President. I asked Chris if he'd like to offer a Christmas message to botanists and I'm delighted that he sent this note through earlier today: 

"This is the second task I have undertaken in my new role as President. The first was to sign a formal objection on behalf of the Society to a planning application for a new golf course at Coul in East Sutherland

"Somehow we need to make sure that our plant records, so carefully gathered, are more regarded by planners and their ilk. I know that the Board of Trustees is currently considering a new conservation policy for the BSBI and I've already fielded some phone calls from senior members on related topics. Watch this space. 

"Now for the Christmas message. 

Chris in the Herbarium at University of Leicester
Image: L.Marsh 
"Winter is traditionally not a good time for botany. Short dark days which make us long for the summer. County Recorders are hunched not over roaring fires roasting chestnuts but more often over their computer screens inputting data. But I offer you a new winter sport. One that doesn't involve snow and planks of wood or hard ice and sharp blades. It's the herbarium season! The best present you can give a herbarium keeper is a visit! So, make a New Year resolution to spend an afternoon with some pressed plants

"And the folks who run herbaria are often really interesting people too. One of the things I've learned about botanists is that most turn out to be multi-faceted individuals for whom botany is just one of their all-consuming passions, if that's possible! We might expect quite a few birders but I've met botanists who turn out also to be organists, poets, unicyclists or ballroom dancers to mention just a few. A few years ago we were running a trip for the Wild Flower Society to Ben Lawers. On the last evening we arranged to meet up for a meal. Over the haggis we realised that every one of the fourteen botanists present played a musical instrument. Of course none of us had bought one along. Pity.

Chris in his local herbarium: Hancock Museum,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Image courtesy of C. Metherell
"So I have a second (and final, I promise) New Year resolution for you. On your next field trip, or conference or training session, or whatever it is, try and get behind the botany and find out about the alter egos of the botanists you meet. You might be surprised at the results. 

"Have a great Christmas and enjoy your New Year Plant Hunt - I'll be out hunting on my patch in Northumberland and I'll share my finds with you on these pages in the New Year." 

Thanks to Chris for this - now click here to find out about our President's alter ego. Merry Christmas!