Sunday 19 February 2023

Botanical University Challenge and a canal update

 Hello botanical friends,

Lots of work is currently going on in preparation for the publication of the spring newsletter. The field meetings have been organised for 2023, more on that in the next blog, and articles are being written. But we would like to bring your attention to what has quickly become an important annual event in the botanical calendar: Botanical University Challenge.    

Botanical University Challenge first started in 2016 with 5 teams of botanical students coming together and competing for fun. It was started by Dr John Warren - the guest speaker at our meeting last month, along with Dr Jonathan Mitchley of the University of Reading and Professor Paul Ashton of Edge Hill University. It was won in that year by the University of Reading.

It moved online during lockdown, as we all did, and it has continued to grow. This year there are 111 students in 25 institutions from around Britain and Ireland taking part! It is being held in three rounds, the quarter-final were held online on the 15th February and the semi-final will be online this Wednesday 22nd February hosted by Dr Caroline Lehman and Professor Paul Ashton at 2pm. You can play along and get tickets here.

The grand semi-final and final are being held at the University of Nottingham on the 5th July and being live-streamed on YouTube. More information is available here:

In the last blog we told you that work was about to start on restoring a 4-mile section of the Montgomeryshire Canal from Llanymynech to Arddleen and the creation of three 'off-line' nature reserves. There have been historical attempts to restore parts of the Montgomershire Canal within Shropshire, and they have been disastrous. We have reported on them in previous newsletters:   

Since the last blog that have been several council meetings and there is a greater appreciation of how important this site is. At the moment this increased awareness has led to the decision to consult with ecologists with greater ecological expertise in this area: Dr Richard Lansdown, the current Chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Plant Specialist Group, Chair of the Natural England Aquatic Plant Taxon Group and the IUCN Freshwater Conservation Committee. Other ecologists from our own Society are also involved in discussions, Mark Duffell and Dr Kate Thorne - who is also the BSBI Vice County Recorder for Montgomeryshire. The Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust have also been invited to discuss with the Canal and River Trust ecologists, along with Joshua Styles, who was a guest speaker at a previous meeting. We'll keep you updated as things progress...

In the intervening time we hope that you enjoy the spring weather though we'd advise 'not to cast a clout till May is out', is that the month or the blossom?