Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Presidents' Award 2017

BSBI President John Faulkner
about to present the award
Image: P. Spencer-Vellacott
Every year, the BSBI President and the President of the Wild Flower Society get together to discuss the annual Presidents' Award, which since the mid 1990s has been awarded to a recipient or recipients whose book, major paper, discovery or outstanding exhibit is deemed to have made the greatest contribution in a particular calendar year to our understanding of the flowering plants and ferns of Britain and Ireland. 

The Award has, until now, gone to the author(s) of an important book, such as the 'New Atlas of the British & Irish Flora', Poland & Clement's 'Vegetative Key to the British Flora' or (last year's winner) Clive Stace and Mick Crawley's 'Alien Plants'. The Presidents' Award webpage has details of other recipients through the years, and of how the award came about.

But last night at the BSBI Annual Summer Meeting in Flintshire, BSBI President John Faulkner broke with tradition when he announced the recipient of this year's award.    


John presents the Presidents' Award
for 2017 to Tom Humphrey at the
BSBI Summer Meeting
Image: L. Gravestock 
John said "Users of the BSBI Distribution Database are greatly impressed by its capabilities. It is immensely versatile and has scope for yet further development. Its usefulness to botanists makes it an outstanding example of what the Presidents' Award is intended for. Tom Humphrey, as its creator, is a worthy recipient of the Award, and deserves the congratulations of all with an interest in wild plants."

Active BSBI members will be aware that Tom is not just the creator of the Distribution Database, he has continued to work on it over the past decade as BSBI's Database Officer, refining the software, adding new reporting and data validation tools and improving usability. 

If you are already a user of the Database, I'm sure you will agree with John and join us in giving a hearty round of applause to Tom for all the work he has put in to the Database over the past decade. If you are new to the delights of the Database, head over to our Maps and Data page to find out more. 

The Database now holds over 32 million plant records and while full access to it is restricted mainly to County Recorders and academic researchers, it also supports the ongoing recording and validation work for Atlas 2020 and provides reliable data for land managers and conservation agencies.

Members of the BSBI Committee for Wales
look on as Tom receives the Award
Image: P. Spencer-Vellacott
But every botanist, whatever their skill level, can benefit from the distribution maps generated from data held in the Database. Just type the name of a plant into the taxon box on this page to generate a map and then zoom in to any 2km by 2km square in Britain or Ireland to see if your plant has been recorded there. You can also filter by date class, so you can see if the plant has been recorded in the past decade, or in one of five other date classes, e.g. 1930-1969. 

What a fabulous resource for plant-lovers and three cheers for its creator and custodian Tom Humphrey, a worthy recipient of the Presidents' Award for 2017.