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Archive of Council Newsletters
The Journal of Bryology is our flagship publication, and its on-line production is a bold step needed to bring us in line with other scientific publications. Work on this is actively proceeding and, with small ongoing modifications, the new arrangements are working well. This important topic will be further discussed in agenda-item 10. Thanks to Jeff Bates and Howard Matcham and to the Scientific Editors for ensuring a relatively painless transfer.
Few members can have missed the exciting developments in the Society’s Field Guide, which is now visibly taking shape on the BBS website. With respect to the number of species that will be included, a balance is being sought between including only those species that can be identified in the field, or including those species plus references to those that cannot (with any certainty) be readily identified. Whichever option is implemented will ultimately depend upon ensuring that the guide does not become unmanageably large – after all, it is meant to be a field guide.
Earlier this year Ian Atherton volunteered to help design the Guide and typeset it in Adobe InDesign, to incorporate photographs, text, maps and drawings, and produce a press-ready file of the whole book – in other words, to see the project through to the completion of the finished book. Ian is Design Manager and Senior Staff Editor for the Society for General Microbiology, where he designs and produces journals of academic research. His professional skill in preparing attractively designed pages for publication can be seen at the conversazione in Room N101, after dinner tonight. Council noted that John Birks has offered to make his large collection of photographs available for the Guide. John has images of about 80% of British species, so his generous offer is a great boon to progress.
The report of Council from the Spring meeting, on the re-housing of the BBS library at Preston Montford, will be put to the AGM for a decision today – item 9. I won’t preempt this discussion here, but merely thank both the Council, and in particular members of the Council Working Group, who put so much work into the report.
This last year has provided another successful year of BBS meetings. These are remarkably diverse, varying from the popular local meetings such Society business 18 Field Bryology number 92 as Malcolm Watling’s meeting last December at Ham Fen, to the southern Italian meeting led by Roberto Ligrone, with Jeff Duckett co-ordinating the arrangements for British participants. A quick look at the BBS website is enough to make those who didn’t go, wish that they had. My other regret here is that the superb bryophyte photos here are not credited. And of course there are the regular Bryophyte Workshops which this year hosted the inaugural meeting of BRECOG, the BRyophyte ECOlogy Group, led by Jeff Bates. Again, the BBS website has a most useful summary of the action-packed day. The BBS maintains the high quality of its regular Spring and Summer meetings, guided respectively this year by Martin Godfrey at Stafford and by Mark Lawley at East Sutherland and Orkney. Mark, as Meetings Secretary, must be thanked for his part in arranging all these meetings. Also I must mention the 12 bryological Field Studies Council meetings not under the aegis of the BBS, 11 of which were led by Martha Newton. The value of these meetings to bryology in general and to the BBS in particular, should be acknowledged here.
The next 12 months promise a similar feast, of which I will highlight just the Summer field meeting in Mull, and the two Masterclasses at Preston Montford. These Masterclasses include an optional mock exam that might encourage you to proceed to the Natural History Museum’s prestigious Identification Qualification (IdQ) exam.
Revisiting the BBS website, which I don’t do often enough, reminded me of how excellent it is. It is more and more our front door, but perhaps we take it for granted these days – so I should like to highlight the work of Angela Newton and Jonathan Sleath, and thank them both. Like a swan moving serenely on the surface of the water, but paddling like mad underneath. The same of course could be said about the Journal and Field Bryology.
Earlier this year, Plantlife Link Scotland (PLINKS - a forum of organisations, including the BBS, working for the conservation of plants and their habitats in Scotland), published its ‘Strategy for the conservation of lower plants and fungi in Scotland’, copies of which will be available at the conversazione. In their letter PLINKS outlined the project and picked out targets relevant to the BBS. Essentially, the aim is to promote bryophytes (amongst other lower plants) and is precisely within the BBS remit. The total project cost is £250,742 and Scottish Natural Heritage is committed to providing £113 k (45%) so long as the project starts by March 2007. PLINKS is now working to raise the other 55% (£138 k) and the BBS and other specialist societies have been asked to commit £2,000 a year each for three years, in order to demonstrate commitment to the project and to make it easier for PLINKS to tap other sources of funds. The Bequest Committee and Council have each agreed to contribute £3,000 over the three years.
Lastly, I must record a few items that do not relate directly to Council. Firstly, the corrected 2nd edn of Tony Smith’s excellent Flora has been published, though in paper-back format only. I should like to thank all those, but particularly Tony and Howard Matcham, who contributed to producing the work as it should have been published originally. Secondly, I was delighted by Tom Blockeel’s English edition of Fey, Frahm, Fischer and Lobin’s The Liverworts, mosses and ferns of Europe; at such a reasonable price I cannot see any BBS member without it. And finishing on a lighter note, I applaud the new moss garden as RHS Wisley. This coincides nicely with the government moss initiative of withdrawing all dichlorophen products – the stalwart of moss-killers – and recommending an Integrated Plant Management approach instead: mossy gardens.
The president’s report as given to the 2005 AGM on the work of Council since October 2004
I described last year in this report as ‘replete with good things’. This has perhaps been a more ordinary year in the life of the Society, but there is nevertheless plenty on which to report.
The publication of the Journal of Bryology is central to our activities as a learned Society, and Council has been considering its future management in view of Jeff Bates’ intention to resign as Editor at the end of next year. Council agreed last night, subject to the approval of the 2006 AGM, to replace the current single Editor with a Managing Editor responsible for the submission of copy to our publisher, Maney Publishing, and a team of five scientific editors who would edit the papers within their areas of expertise. We hope that this will reduce the burden on a single officer, and make for a more sustainable arrangement. We greatly appreciate the advance notice Jeff has given us of his desire to resign, which has given us this opportunity to consider our future plans. At the same time, the Journal will be changing to a more electronic system for the submission and refereeing of papers, another move which should ease the burden of editorial administration.
At its Spring meeting, Council agreed to establish a Nomenclature Committee which would be responsible for maintaining the list of bryophytes of Britain and Ireland . In the past we have published our approved nomenclature periodically in the Census Catalogues, but this new Committee, under the auspices of the Recorders for Mosses and Liverworts, will enable us to maintain a current list between editions . Members of the Committee will help the Recorders assess the never-ending stream of suggested nomenclatural changes, and the claims for inclusion of the apparently increasing number of bryophytes introduced with garden plants such as tree ferns.
As those who attended the Symposium meeting earlier today will have heard, the Survey of the Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL) was completed in May, and the data are currently being analysed and prepared for publication. Thanks are due to all those who took part in this unique survey. The Conservation and Recording Committee have now moved on to consider the next major recording project, an update to the Atlas of Bryophytes, and have established a Steering Group to carry this forward. Turning to the more bureaucratic aspects of recording, Council approved a data access policy for the Society at its Spring meeting.Particular thanks are due to Mark Hill, our Recording Secretary, for steering us cheerfully through these somewhat dismal waters. The Policy has now been published on the BBS website.
An enjoyable and productive series of meetings has been held during the year. We were privileged to have the guidance of Dr Lars Hedenäs at our taxonomic workshop on Amblystegiaceae, held in February. The spring meeting was held in Aberystwyth and to me the most memorable day was that spent in the Rheidol oakwoods. Ray Woods pointed out that this was one of a sequence of oceanic woodlands preserved as nature reserves by the influence of Derek Ratcliffe, who died later in the summer. The summer field meeting took us to Derrygonnelly and some superb habitats on the upland limestone of Fermanagh and Leitrim, with some incursions into less distinguished but almost unrecorded terrain nearby. We must again thank Mark Lawley for arranging such an interesting series of meetings, and the local secretaries who do so much to make them a success.
As I mentioned last year, a Council Working Group has been considering the future of the Library. Last night Council agreed in principle to support a proposal to house the library at Preston Montford Field Centre, subject to the details of an agreement being settled with the Field Studies Council. Detailed proposals will be published in Field Bryology and members will be asked to approve them at next year’s AGM
Last year I mentioned two books which were not produced as a result of the Society’s official activities but were nevertheless notable additions to bryological literature produced by our members. This week we celebrate the publication of another such work, the New Naturalist volume Mosses and liverworts by Ron Porley and Nick Hodgetts. I hope that members will remain here after the AGM for a small celebration.
C. D. Preston
The publication of this report gives me the opportunity to thank all officers and members of the BBS for their support during my two years as President. I would like in particular to thank David Rycroft and Mike Walton for their work as Treasurer and Secretary respectively: the exemplary efficiency with which they conduct the business of the Society and their unfailing help make the job of the President very much easier than it might otherwise be. C.D.P.
Meetings of the BBS
A programme of very enjoyable and productive field meetings had been held during the year.
The spring meeting had been superbly organised by a team of Worcestershire bryologists with Tessa Carrick as primus inter pares and Mark Lawley as eminence grise. A notable memory had been the line of 45-50 bryologists, ranging from beginners to experts, winding their way up Bredon Hill on Sunday morning – a venue which fortunately absorbed all without difficulty.
The summer meeting in Scotland had been split into two contrasting weeks. A strong team, strong both physically and intellectually, had visited Rum for a memorable meeting led by Gordon Rothero. The team had managed to record bryophytes in 36 of the 41 tetrads on this mountainous island nature reserve. One bryological mystery had been solved when the enigmatic Sphagnum skyense, hitherto known only from the type collection on Skye, was discovered in numerous localities. Those who had attended the second week worked the less taxing country of North Aberdeenshire, believed to be one of the least well-recorded areas of Britain. So it proved – the meeting had resulted in a second northern hemisphere record of Lophozia herzogiana, a considerable northward extension of the world range of Epipterygium tozeri , and over 90 more candidate new vice-county records and ‘debracketings’. Mark Lawley had ably organised this expedition into the unknown.
The Bulletin of the BBS (Field Bryology )
April had seen the transformation of the Bulletin into Field Bryology. This had been extremely well received by the membership and many thanks were due to Marcus Yeo for his painstaking work in planning the new format. To build on the strong start in this new format, authors were encouraged to continue to submit interesting contributions.
Council had agreed that the Society should publish a field guide to British mosses and liverworts that would be in an easily digested format with the aim of attracting and retaining recruits to field bryology. The project would be somewhat innovative in that sections would be pre-published on the BBS website as they became available so that members (of all levels of ability) would be able to comment on their contents before final publication. Several members had undertaken to write descriptions of various taxa but authors were still needed. Anyone who is prepared to write brief descriptions for any of the ‘unadopted’ taxa should contact Mark Lawley.
Council had also decided to support a project to revise the Society’s Atlas of bryophytes. This would provide an opportunity to synthesise all the new distributional data that had been collected in the last 10 years, and to make the revised maps and text available on the web and, hopefully, in book form as well – though the arrangements for book publication had yet to be agreed.
Together with the arrival of Field Bryology , members had received the new membership list from Mark Pool, not perhaps bedside reading but a great improvement on earlier versions because of its regional list of members.
Two other publications, which were less directly connected to the Society, deserved mention. E.W. Jones’s liverwort and hornwort flora of West Africa, based on a draft text prepared by the late Eustace Jones, had been completed and edited after his death by members of the Tropical Bryology Group and published by the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. The President congratulated all those involved in bringing the project to completion, in particular Martin Wigginton, the editor, Herman Stieperaere, for arranging publication in the Scripta Botanica Belgica series, and Omer Van der Kerckhove, for contributing many superb drawings prepared specially for the book. All who knew Dr Jones would be pleased to see this splendidly produced and most fitting memorial. Secondly, congratulations were offered to Dr Tony Smith who had increased members’ indebtedness to him with the recent publication of the second edition of The moss flora of Britain and Ireland .
The BBS website
The website was increasingly important, and thanks were extended to Jonathan and Oliver Sleath for their continuing work to keep it up-to-date under the diligent eyes of Angie Newton. The site had been improved during the year with the addition of vice-county records up to and including 2003, and thanks were due to Mark Hill for his input to this. These records would now be updated annually. Thanks were also given to Phil Stanley for his cumulative index to all BBS publications which is available in regularly updated form, and to Jeff Bates for his indexes to the Journal.
Conservation and recording
The Survey of the Bryophytes of Arable Land had come through its second field season successfully. Although the late summer and autumn drought had led to the worst conditions for arable bryophytes for many years, at least in southern England, recorders had stuck to the task and as many fields had been recorded in 2003-04 as in the previous winter. The opportunity to document the arable bryophytes in such a season was doubtless valuable scientifically, but the wetter summer in 2004 had come as something of a relief to those preparing for the final winter of the Survey.
Library working group and book sale
The sale of the libraries of Alan Crundwell and W.J. Newman had raised over £7,500 for the Bequest Fund. Thanks were due to several members for much hard work in bringing about the sale, but in particular to Ken Adams, Tom Blockeel, Roy Perry and Marcus Yeo. These bequests had raised the whole subject of the future of the Society’s library. Discussions on this were continuing, and it was hoped that a proposal would be put to Council, and then to the wider membership, during 2005.
Meetings of the BBS
The Meetings Secretary, Mark Lawley, had co-ordinated a diverse range of meetings during the past 12 months.
The first meeting, the Arable Bryophyte Workshop, organised by Mark Hill, had been held in November 2002 at Preston Montford. This meeting had been timed to launch the new Survey of Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL) run by the Society, and provided an opportunity for participants to learn about the techniques for identifying arable bryophytes. The first day was occupied with lectures and practical sessions and the SBAL recording pack was handed out. On the second day participants tested the methodology in the field.
The spring meeting in 2003, organised by Richard Fisk, had been held in East Anglia , and included sites in both Norfolk and Suffolk . Excursions were held in a variety of habitats, ranging from coastal heaths to woodlands, and included a memorable boat trip on the Ted Ellis Reserve to see the spectacular Timmiamegapolitana. The group also saw a very fine colony of Cryptothallusmirabilis in wet woodland, an excellent photograph of which can be seen on the BBS website.
The first week of the summer meeting, organised by Martin Robinson, had been held at Kindrogan in Perthshire. As well as a variety of excursions to some rich localities, such as Ben Vrackie, the meeting included a very successful workshop on the intractable genus Schistidium led by the world authority on the genus, Dr Hans Blom. The success of the workshop would be gauged by the correctness of the determination of new Schistidium vouchers sent in to Gordon Rothero. The second week, based in Pitlochry, had been organised and led by Mark Lawley.
The Bulletin of the BBS
Over the past year Council had received comments from members about the content of both the Journal of Bryology and the BBS Bulletin. The Journal of Bryology was now one of very few top academic bryological journals, and attracted many leading authors and first-rate research papers. This was in no small measure due to the dedication of the editorial team, particularly Jeff Bates and Anja Steenkiste, and to those members who edit and referee papers. Council was ever anxious to maintain and even increase the international status of the Journal as it reflected very highly on the BBS. However, some felt that this situation had a downside, in that there was often relatively little in the Journal that was of interest to amateurs and local recorders. For this reason, with the encouragement of Council, Marcus Yeo had proposed an expansion of the size and scope of the Bulletin (and possibly renaming it) to provide a wider range of material, much of which would also appear on the website. As well as coverage of Society business, there would be a range of more popular articles and more emphasis on field bryology, conservation matters, obituaries and other topics of general interest to members. Although an expanded Bulletin would cost more, Council considered that this would be money well spent. Council had now approved the plans, and members could look forward to three issues per year in a new format from 2004.
One innovation already announced in Bulletin 81 was the ‘rare and interesting bryophytes’ column, to be edited by Mark Hill. At present, only new vice-county records were published in the Bulletin, but many members make other important bryological discoveries, such as new sites for rare species, information on Red Data Book bryophytes, and second vice-county records for notable species. Reports of such new records would include some background on the significance of the find and, hopefully, would be of general interest as well as of value for conservation activities such as the Threatened Bryophyte Database.
This year members had been working on three BBS publications, two of which were now available.
English namesfor British bryophytes, written by Sean Edwards, had been out of print. Sean had edited and produced a new, third edition that had now been printed and was available from the Librarian.
[Sean Edwards reported that the new edition incorporated taxonomic revisions since the second edition was published, including those in the forthcoming new edition of A.J.E. Smith’s Moss flora of Britain and Ireland , the more familiar names being included as synonyms. The text had been edited and updated throughout .]
The Conservation Secretary, Dr David Holyoak, had been very active in Ireland over the past few years, primarily carrying out much-needed bryophyte surveys. As a result, he had made some important new discoveries there. As an ‘extra’ to these surveys (and partly as a result of the difficulties in tracing old Irish bryophyte records) he had recently compiled a book, entitled The distribution of bryophytes in Ireland , which was due to be published soon.
[David Holyoak reported that the book would list details of all vice-county records, from those of the Moss Exchange Club up to the end of 2002. It would include a brief introductory chapter on Irish bryology in the last century. Members would be given the opportunity to purchase the book at a concessionary price. Any profits would be donated to the BBS to subsidise fieldwork in Ireland by amateur bryologists.]
The cumulative index to the publications of the Moss Exchange Club and the British Bryological Society had recently been published electronically on a website linked to the BBS website. This was the result of several years’ painstaking research, compilation and editing by Dr Phil Stanley. Although it had been published electronically, further editing and updating were needed, and it was intended that, in due course, a printed edition would be published at an economic price. In addition to the web-based version, it would be available on a CD at cost, and members who wanted a copy in this format should contact the General Secretary (address inside front cover). The website also had other associated data files containing historical information on the Moss Exchange Club and the BBS.
[Phil Stanley confirmed that the index included references from all publications of the Moss Exchange Club from its foundation in 1896 and from publications of the BBS up to and including 2000.]
The BBS website
Members who knew how valuable the BBS website is for all kinds of information and links would have seen that recently it had been completely redesigned with many innovative and colourful features, such as stunning photographs of bryophytes and up-to-the-minute illustrated reports of field meetings and other activities. Other new features were the county guides to bryology promoted by Mark Lawley. Council was very grateful for the work of the Website Editor, Dr Angela Newton, as well as that of Brian O’Shea, and to the superb technical skills of Jonathan and Oliver Sleath.
Conservation and recording matters
The Conservation and Recording Committee had been buzzing with activity over the previous year. For example, they had organised the Survey of Bryophytes of Arable Land (SBAL), initiated in 2002 and now fully under way, with many results pouring in during autumn and winter 2002/03. The wet weather in 2002 appeared to have been good for arable bryophytes, and it would be interesting to see how they had coped with very dry weather in 2003. Up-to-date information on SBAL had been given in the last Bulletin, and was also available on the BBS website.
Equally exciting were the proposals put before Council (and enthusiastically endorsed) for a supplement to the Atlas of the bryophytes of Britain and Ireland , drawn up by Chris Preston and Mark Hill. The intentions were to inject some new impetus into bryophyte recording around the country, to use some of the new data already generated since the last Atlas, to improve coverage of neglected areas, and to highlight species of particular interest (e.g. those that are increasing or declining, ‘new’ taxa, etc).
[Chris Preston reported that it was intended to launch the project at the AGM/paper-reading meeting at Preston Montford in 2004. Further details of the project would appear in the Bulletin.]
Other ways in which the BBS had contributed to conservation activities were advising on bryophyte names for the National Biodiversity Network species dictionary, contributing to the Threatened Bryophyte Database, contributing to the fourth quinquennial review of Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, and responding to a consultation on important conservation legislation at the Scottish Parliament.
During ongoing discussions in Council and in the Conservation and Recording Committee about the role of Vice-County Recorders, it had become evident that the status of these Recorders was unclear, particularly regarding ownership of data and the legality (under the terms of the Data Protection Act) of passing on records containing personal details of contributors. Council was therefore amending the Society’s registration under the Act, but discussion was still ongoing concerning the status and responsibilities of BBS Recorders.
[Would Vice-County Recorders who wish to comment please contact the General Secretary – see address inside front cover or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Library working group and book sale
The catalogue for the book sale had been distributed with the Bulletin and bids for the various publications were awaited. This was one of the most important bryological libraries to be put on sale in recent years and gave members the opportunity to dig deep into their pockets to support the BBS. This sale had involved a great deal of work for several members, especially Ken Adams, Tom Blockeel, Roy Perry and Marcus Yeo, who were thanked very sincerely.
Some of the books bequeathed to the BBS by Alan Crundwell had been retained for the BBS library. Because of the problems of storage, and indeed questions about the whole future of the library and its scope, Council had established a library working group earlier in the year to review the content and future of the BBS library. The group had just presented an interim report to Council.
[Chris Preston and Mark Lawley, the leaders of the working group, thanked the members of the group for their work, and stressed how indebted the Society had been to Ken Adams for managing and housing the library. However, when Ken could no longer perform this service, it would pose a serious problem for the Society. The working group had presented an interim report to Council that recommended retaining a comprehensive bryological library but, if possible, housing it in an institution (with appropriate safeguards for the Society). Following Council’s approval in principle, the working group now proposed to open discussions with appropriate institutions. Members were assured that the ultimate decision on the future of the library would be a matter for the AGM.]
Tropical Bryology Group
After many years of co-ordinating the Tropical Bryology Group (TBG), Brian O’Shea has now stepped down and Dr Michelle Price has taken over. Recent activities of the TBG had been publicised in the February Bulletin.
One activity that had been ongoing for many years was the E.W. Jones liverwort flora of West Tropical Africa , which was now at an advanced stage of editing by Martin Wigginton and others.
[Martin Wigginton added that the flora was more or less complete and would be with the printers by December. Herman Stieperaere confirmed that it should be published early in 2004.]
The strong African interest was also continuing in other projects, such as the book Mosses and liverworts of Uganda . Plans for future tropical fieldwork included Malawi and possibly Belize . The group was always keen to have new members and those who were interested should contact Michelle Price.
Finally, the President took the opportunity to thank Brian O’Shea for his enormous contribution to tropical bryology in the BBS.
Much of the work of Council over the last year will be included in the Presidents Report from Council which will be in the minutes of the 2002 AGM in the next Bulletin. As with recent newsletters, therefore, this one will only highlight particular issues.
The Societys committees and working groups
It is pleasing to report that more members are becoming involved in the work of Council and its committees for the first time but, if the Society is to continue to thrive over the medium- to long-term, it is important that even more members do so. If, therefore, you would like to participate, please contact the General Secretary. The last AGM approved a change to the rules so that, in future, Elected Members will serve three years instead of two. This change is intended to ensure that they have a greater opportunity to participate in the affairs of Council and, as a result, to make their time on Council more satisfying. Over the next four years a number of officers will reach the end of their maximum term of office, and it is to be hoped that they can be replaced by members who have served as Elected Members and have some experience of the way in which the Society is managed.
The Publications Committee is actively considering ways in which the Bulletin can be improved so that it provides more benefit for members generally. If members have views on what they wish to be included in the Bulletin, will they please contact the Editor, Marcus Yeo (address inside front cover).
Council is very grateful to Dr David Rycroft for agreeing to accept nomination as Treasurer. David was duly elected at the last AGM. It is also pleasing to report that John Blackburn has made a good recovery from his recent illness.
An increasing number of awards have been made from the Bequest Fund but money is still available for awards for appropriate activities (see Bulletins 77: 27 and 79: 7 & 32).
The Society has been able to claim approximately £2,500 under the terms of the Gift Aid scheme which enables tax paid by UK members to be reclaimed against their subscriptions. Members who did not respond to the earlier mailing will by now have received a follow-up letter and form and are urged to return it to the Membership Secretary, Mark Pool, as soon as possible, if they have not already done so. The Inland Revenue has belatedly told the Society that it cannot reclaim tax under the Gift Aid Scheme in respect of those members who already reclaim the cost of their subscription against their income tax as an expense incurred in connection with their employment. Members who responded to the first mailing and fall within this category are asked to let the General Secretary know (see p. 44 of this Bulletin).
Since the last Newsletter, Council has again dealt with a wide range of topics, several of which are highlighted here. Much of the work, as in the previous year, was concerned with policy matters and with trying to ensure that the Society meets its objectives and the needs of its members, and uses its resources as effectively as possible. Further details of the activities of Council during the year will be included in the Presidents Report from Council which will be in the minutes of the 2001 AGM in the next Bulletin.
The Societys committees and working groups
As a continuation of its review of committees, Council approved new terms of reference for the Publications Committee (see Bulletin 77: 26). One of the motivations for these reviews is to establish mechanisms to ensure that membership of the committees is reviewed on a regular basis, so that members of the Society who wish to make a direct contribution to its activities through membership of committees and working groups are able to do so. Members of Council have contact with many of the members of the Society and are able to suggest nominations for election to vacancies but there will always be some who will be overlooked and who have appropriate experience to contribute. Those who would like to be considered as vacancies arise are, therefore, urged to contact the General Secretary. A summary of the committees and their present membership is set out on pp 52-53 of this Bulletin.
The Publications Committee has drawn up a timetable for a review of the Societys current publishing activities (the Journal of Bryology, the Bulletin and the Societys web site). The contract with Maney for the publication of the Journal has continued to work effectively; arrangements for automatic uprating of the payments for the support of the Editorial Office have been approved, and measures have been agreed for monitoring the level of stocks of back issues that belong to the Society but which are stored by Maney.
Jeff Bates, the current Journal Editor, will have served for 10 years in December 2002 but he has kindly agreed, subject to the approval of the AGM, to continue in office for a further two years to enable an orderly transfer of the office to take place. The work that Jeff has done and the status of the Journal is such that this will be a vital appointment, and Council is grateful to him for agreeing to stand for election for an extra two-year term.
The BBS herbarium and archives
Following the transfer of the herbarium to NMGW and the wish of Roy Perry to retire from the post of Archivist, Council is reviewing the function and contents of the archives and the roles of the Curator and of the Archivist.
The impact of foot-and-mouth disease has been considerable, resulting in the cancellation of the Spring meeting and many of the meetings of local groups but, hopefully, the disease is now well on the way to complete eradication. In the circumstances, a substantial programme of meetings has taken place. The year has seen a change of Meetings Secretary, following the resignation of Dan Wrench and the election of Mark Lawley to the office. This has prompted Council to review the programme of meetings and, arising from that review, the role of the Meetings Secretary is also being reviewed. Council wishes to place on record its thanks to Dan for the work that he has done in arranging a full programme of meetings while he held the office.
The Society is now able to benefit from the introduction of the Gift Aid scheme which enables tax paid by UK members to be reclaimed against their subscriptions. This is an important source of income which, with the maximum support of such members, will make a significant contribution to the Societys finances. Approximately 60% of the potentially eligible UK members have returned the form that was included with the last Bulletin. Members who have not yet done so are asked to read the notes on page 47 of this Bulletin.
A bequest of $Can1,000 (approximately £440) from the estate of Mr H.R. Williams, a former long-standing member who died in 2000, has been received and has been placed in the Bequest Fund.
Amongst the new officers on Council in 2000 were a new President, General Secretary and Treasurer, and it is appropriate to begin this newsletter by thanking the previous holders of those offices for the work that they have undertaken for the Society in the preceding years.
This has been a particularly busy year for the present Council and a considerable amount has been achieved to build upon the past and to help the Society to develop for the future. This brief newsletter outlines several of the most important initiatives. The minutes of the AGM, which will be published in the next Bulletin, will include the Presidents Report containing further details of the activities of Council during 2000.
Council has approved an investment strategy which was developed and proposed by the Treasurer, on the basis of a five-year forecast of income and expenditure. The strategy is intended to ensure that the Society has sufficient funds readily available to meet its objectives whilst ensuring that any balances that are not required for immediate use maintain, and preferably increase, their value. To achieve this, the Society has reduced the funds that it holds in its National Westminster account to the practical minimum, and has closed its National Savings and Girobank accounts. The bulk of the funds have been placed into a combination of interest-bearing deposit account, fixed interest income fund, and equity-based capital growth fund with the Charities Official Investment Fund. Details of the spread of investments and their performance will be contained in the Treasurers annual report.
Review of committees and working groups
Council has initiated a review of its committees and working groups to ensure that their objectives meet the present needs of the Society, and to ensure that their membership is subject to regular re-appointment so that appropriate changes can take place to allow for fresh inputs to the committees. The first review, at the suggestion of the Recording Secretary, has resulted in the merger of the Recording Committee and the Conservation Committee to form a new, joint committee (see p. 43 of this Bulletin).
Census Catalogue data
The raw data from the Census Catalogue are now available on the Societys web site. This will enable members who wish to do so, to download the data and, for example, to prepare vice-county listings to help them in their recording activities. Following a decision to register the domain name, the web site can now be found at http://www.britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk.
Journal of Bryology
The new publishing agreement with Maney is working well and Council has now agreed with the Editor formal arrangements for funding the editorial office of the Journal.
The BBS herbarium and Dr Harold Whitehouses slides and bryological archives
Council has agreed that the herbarium should be transferred to the ownership of the National Museums and Galleries of Wales (NMGW), who have curated it for many years on behalf of the Society, so that the finance that is necessary to protect its long-term future can be made available by NMGW. Council has also agreed that a collection of Dr Harold Whitehouses slides and his bryological archives, which have been gifted to the Society by Dr Whitehouses daughters, should be transferred to the ownership of NMGW to ensure their long-term future.
The agreements with NMGW will safeguard the Societys interests in the collections, and provide for members to have access to them. At the time of writing, some points of detail remain to be resolved and, when the agreements are signed, the arrangements for members to have access (which, in the case of the herbarium, will not differ significantly from present arrangements) will be published in the earliest available issue of the Bulletin.
A tremendous amount of work has been undertaken this year, some of it culminating in hoped-for success. Much of it, however, has failed to achieve its goal but, in doing so, has highlighted areas of concern that Council has now begun to rectify. In keeping you abreast of developments, I must inevitably tell you of Councils disappointments, but it would be wrong to dwell on them unduly for, while we can learn from setbacks, it is on significant achievements that the future of the Society will be built.
Before going into details of Councils work, I must report the sad loss through death of one of our most eminent members, Dr Eric Watson. He will be greatly missed, but remembered with gratitude by so many of us who were dependent on his book in our early days as bryologists.
I think you will agree that this is one of the most eagerly pursued activities of the Society. Because of that, there has been great concern for some time about the difficulty of updating and accessing data supplied to the Biological Records Centre (BRC). It is therefore good to know that real progress appears to have been made. Not only has agreement been reached between the National Biodiversity Network, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee to fund a three-year post at BRC, but it has been decided to use bryophyte data in a pilot scheme. An appointment has already been made, and completion of the first project is expected by March 2000.
Journal of Bryology
Considerable optimism for the continued evolution of the Journal of Bryology is evident in the first years issues in its enlarged and modernised format. What was originally published once a year as the Transactions of the British Bryological Society has now become a quarterly publication with the assistance of the new agreement with W.S. Maney & Son Ltd. On the success of this venture hangs the success of the Societys greatest scientific and financial commitment, and we wish it well.
Stocks of BBS Journals
Undoubtedly the most worrying aspect of Councils work over the past few years has centred on its dispute with our former publisher of the Journal of Bryology, concerning large stocks of back-numbers that were shown in an inventory to have disappeared. Acting cautiously, with legal advice throughout, BBS officers have been faced with an incredible work-load and are now unable to look forward to a successful outcome. The case has not been heard but appears to have been resolved against us on a technicality, although it is still in the hands of our solicitor. At the moment, however, it can be said that this traumatic episode has served to emphasise serious shortcomings in the continuity of business between successive officers. Measures have therefore been taken to ensure that business practice in future will always match the demands that might be put on it.
E.W. Jones Bryological Books
The scheme devised by Council to meet Dr Jones wishes for the distribution of books he left to the Society was ably implemented by Mr Tom Blockeel, and raised some £700 to £800.
Forming the nub of the Society, an attractive programme of meetings was put forward with the help of local organisers in 1999. The spring meeting in Abergavenny and the AGM in Manchester were particularly favoured by good attendances. Liverpool Museums good fortune with funds for building work, however, was the Societys misfortune, in necessitating cancellation of the Bryological Workshop. Let us hope that we shall be invited back on a future occasion to explore the links between the BBS and the bryophyte collections at Liverpool.
While there can be no doubt that the Society has suffered a serious setback this year, I believe it can go forward more strongly. To do so, Council itself must maintain its resolve to implement sound business practices. Just as important, however, are the continued support and help of members who assist Council in gearing its efforts to the requirements of the membership as a whole. I hope my successors will enjoy the benefit of your assistance.
It would be no exaggeration to say that Council has been faced with an immense amount of work during the past year. That is not new, you might say, and perhaps you are right. Even so, you would certainly be right in expecting to see positive results, whatever the difficulties, and I am pleased to be able to tell you that we are now in the midst of a very productive phase.
Perhaps I may begin by telling you about three new Honorary Members, who were elected at the recent AGM. Dr Lewis E. Anderson, Dr Howard A. Crum and Dr Francis Rose were proposed by Council in recognition of their contributions to bryology, and are all to be warmly congratulated on their appointment.
Two new books have resulted from BBS initiatives. So different are they that, together, they will cater for an extremely wide range of interests. Moreover, each, individually, is ideally placed to advance bryology. The BBS centenary symposium volume, Bryology for the Twenty-first Century, appeared first. Edited by Dr Jeff Bates, Dr Neil Ashton and Prof. Jeff Duckett, its 23 full-length papers and summary of another span a wide spectrum of modern fields of research, and can be predicted to become a frequently-used source of reference. The book is a fitting milestone in the Societys history. More recently, we have also seen the publication of a new Census Catalogue, prepared by Messrs Tom Blockeel and David Long. Like its predecessors, it can be relied upon to stimulate the sort of fieldwork that has always been one of the Societys greatest strengths.
E.W. Jones Bryological Books
As you will know, Dr Eustace Jones left his bryological books, with the exception of African ones, unconditionally to the Society, but expressed the wish that any duplicates that were not required by the library would be made available to members. He was particularly concerned that their distribution should be as even-handed as possible. Council has given considerable thought to the detail of his wishes, and has now devised a scheme about which you will read on p. 74 of this Bulletin.
Journal of Bryology
After five successful years with the publisher, W.S. Maney & Son Ltd, Council agrees that the time is now right to accept a proposal to enter into negotiations, which may result in a new agreement being drawn up, to the mutual benefit of both parties. The Publications Committee will open negotiations with a view to putting the Journal of Bryology on a firmer financial footing, promoting sales, and providing support for our Editor.
Ex situ Conservation of Bryophytes
Pioneering work instigated by Mr Ron Porley, English Nature and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will address problems of conservation by the use of ex situ culture techniques. Council, on behalf of the Society, has endorsed the project, for it is seen as providing a potentially valuable tool in dealing with seriously threatened species.
These, therefore, are some of our successes as a Society. There have inevitably been disappointments, among them the need to cancel the spring meeting because of insufficient bookings. The underlying reasons are not entirely clear to Council, but we are pleased to see that other meetings have been well received. Even those meetings, however, could be improved by higher attendance figures.
There continues to be a lot of business in the hands of Council members, but I must not omit to mention one item that was by no means routine. The successful production of Bulletin 71 by Mr Marcus Yeo, and of an interim list of meetings by Mr Mike Walton, was an outstanding demonstration of what can be achieved by generous offers of help when assistance is greatly needed.
Do, please, continue to support Council in its endeavours on your behalf. Dialogue is beneficial, and I hope the updated list of BBS committees, published on p. 78 of this Bulletin, will help to promote an exchange of ideas.
There has been progress in this the first year after our Centenary but, before I tell you about it in detail, I must report the sad loss of four of our members through death. Mrs Susan Ford and Mrs Lilian Franck had greatly enjoyed participating in field meetings over many years. Dr G.K. Berrie joined the Society as long ago as 1950. All, like Mr John Holness who had more recently become an active member, will be sadly missed.
Turning to happier things, members who were brought together by the AGM in Chichester were able to attend a dinner in honour of Dr Harold Whitehouse. At 80, he continues to make invaluable contributions in research and discovery and, equally important, to share his knowledge and enthusiasm generously.
Although it was hoped that the Centenary Symposium Volume and the new Census Catalogue would both appear in 1997, neither has done so. However, work is in good hands and continues apace, so all bodes well for the finished products. In the meantime, the Publications Committee has recently approved the sale of Dr Sean Edwards English Names for British Bryophytes.
There have been several developments in this context; one concerns the sum raised by the sale of old microscopes bequeathed by Dr Eustace Jones. It has been used to purchase two new microscopes, which will be lent to BBS members, and about which you will read in detail elsewhere in this Bulletin[see Bulletin 71] . The Society has also received a legacy in excess of £3,000 derived from the sale of books from the library of Prof. Paul Richards. With a view to managing these and previously existing bequest funds to best effect, Council has established a Bequest Committee consisting of five members, four of whom, Dr G.C.S. Clarke, Prof. J.G. Duckett, Mr D.G. Long and Mr H.W. Matcham, will retire annually in alphabetical order but be eligible for re-election by Council, each for a maximum of eight years. The fifth member is Mr E.R. Hurr, ex officio (Treasurer), who will be one of two members drawn from BBS trustees. Arrangements have also been made to hold bequest funds in a separate account.
Warburg Memorial Fund
This, as many of you will know, is a joint asset of the BBS and the BSBI, from which occasional small grants are made to young members. A grant was made this year to Mr M. Sabovljevik for bryophyte work in Serbia. In practice, the fund has been administered by the BSBI, from which a proposal to wind up the fund has recently been received, and I understand that the proposal was agreed in principle by the BBS Council at its last meeting.
Increasing numbers continue to reflect a thriving society, which calls, not only for efficient handling of data, but also for good communication facilities. Appropriately, our Membership Secretary has now ensured that the BBS is registered for data protection, covering, not only membership details, but also recording activities.
A new list of members is nearing completion, and it is hoped that its circulation will help to promote dialogue, and thus the interests of bryology. Some of that dialogue, I hope, will continue to assist Council in its efforts on behalf of the Society.
(BBS Bulletin 69 - February 1997)
The inauspicious nature of this newsletter's place in time is clearly at odds with the good news I have to tell you. You will read about some of it elsewhere in this Bulletin [Bulletin 69], but some, such as correspondence concerning back-numbers of the Transactions and Journal of Bryology, is still not finalized. However, there is much about which I can give you more information. In doing so, I would draw your attention to the fact that the vast majority of Council's recent endeavours have been directed towards encouraging and supporting bryological studies at every level.
Over ninety bryologists from around the world made the Glasgow symposium the success for which we had hoped. The symposium volume will therefore provide, not only a lasting record, but also a springboard for future studies. It promises to be a major international contribution to bryology. British bryology has also benefited this year, with a good geographical spread of field meetings having provided opportunities to update distributional data for the forthcoming Census Catalogue.
This conference, held at Warwick University for teachers of biology, was a fortuitous and welcome opportunity to encourage and support the use of bryophytes for educational purposes. Miss J.M. Ide and I, in representing the B.B.S., were delighted with the response our two sessions received. There is obviously a genuine interest in bryophytes as vehicles for teaching biology in schools and colleges. The Publications Committee is therefore considering several ideas for fostering that interest.
Side Bequest Committee
Council is pleased that plans are now in place for the management of the fund which was established by the generous bequest from Mrs A.G. Side. It will be used to promote worthwhile projects, and applications for grants will be invited in this and future issues of the Bulletin.
E.W. Jones Bequest
You will recall that old microscopes bequeathed to the Society were very successfully sold at Christie's. Council has now authorized the purchase of modern microscopes, which will be lent, in accordance with Dr Jones' wishes, to young B.B.S. members.
Dawyck Cryptogamic Reserve
Edinburgh Botanic Garden had plans to reach out to members of the public by converting its satellite garden at Dawyck, near Peebles, into a cryptogamic reserve. Council, on your behalf, responded enthusiastically to an invitation to become involved. The garden is now open, enabling visitors to enjoy plant communities in a semi-natural environment. We hope that information about bryophytes and the B.B.S., which is also available to visitors, will add to their enjoyment and promote, in particular, an interest in this group of plants.
Recording the business conducted by Council and the A.G.M. throughout the Society's history, are three old minute books and one which is current. At the request of the A.G.M., the first three have been placed in matching livery . All are blue, and lettered along the spines in gold. Rather than re-bind the first two, they have been placed in custom-built pamphlet boxes, but the third has been re-bound.
To bring the Society abreast of modern technology, Mr B.J. O'Shea, with the help of others, has succeeded in establishing a World Wide Web site for the B.B.S. It is kindly hosted and edited by the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, and is being overseen by Mr D.G. Long.
Very many members are currently helping Council to achieve those benefits which help to secure the Society's success and the future of bryology. Please continue to do so, as a progressive Society depends on joint effort.
M.E. Newton, Hon. Secretary
(BBS Bulletin 67 - February 1996)
Time flies, and once again I am writing with news of Council's wide-ranging work. There is much to report, for 1996, our Centenary year, is now upon us. Before going into detail, however, I must tell you of a number of sad losses the Society has suffered in the deaths, not only of our Honorary Member and longest-serving member, Prof. P.W. Richards, who joined our predecessor, the Moss Exchange Club, in 1920, but also of Mr F.E. Branson, Mr J.H. Field, Miss J. Griffiths, Mr A.R. Milne and Prof. J. Poelt. Their individual bryological interests significantly enriched the B.B.S.
Council's current efforts on your behalf are varied, for they are intended to cater for every member of the Society. Some of our work is still at an early stage, and this includes correspondence with Blackwell's, about stocks of back-numbers of the Transactions and Journal, as well as tentative proposals to become involved in a teachers' conference, Lifescience 2000. There is also some, such as our Conservation Officer's proposals on the availability of data, about which you will read elsewhere. There are, however, many things about which I can tell you more.
There is something for everyone. Leading bryological speakers from around the world will converge on Glasgow for a major international symposium, and this will be followed by an opportunity to see some of Scotland's rich bryoflora. Plans are also afoot to ensure the publication of a West-African Hepatic Flora, produced by the generous efforts of the Tropical Bryology Group from the unfinished manuscript left by Dr E.W. Jones. Similarly, plans for a coffee-table book are in hand. A new Census Catalogue will promote an up-to-date interest in British bryology, and the Society will visit Dolgellau, where the decision was made in 1922 to merge the two sections of the Moss Exchange Club, leading to the origin of the B.B.S. the following year. Members will also gather on the Wirral for the paper-reading meeting and a celebratory dinner. Overall, we hope that as many people as possible will take part in these celebrations, all of which are intended to advance bryology in a variety of ways as the Society enters its second century.
Also looking to the future, Council has initiated moves to investigate the possible benefits of electronic means of communication and publication.
Since details of B.B.S. Committees were published in Bulletin 66, Prof. J.G. Duckett has taken over as convener of the Side Bequest Committee. Council has also established a Publications Committee composed of Dr J.W. Bates (convener), Dr G.C.S. Clarke, Prof. J.G. Duckett, Mr E.R. Hurr, Miss J.M. Ide and Mr A.R. Perry. It has an important role to play in facilitating the Society's work, its remit being: a) to consider the marketing of B.B.S. publications; b) to oversee the progress of publications in preparation; c) to monitor the Society's periodicals and suggest improvements; and d) to initiate new publishing projects.
Although no-one likes to see an increase, Council, and subsequently the A.G.M., agreed that our Treasurer's advice to raise the ordinary subscription to £20 was timely. The rate had remained unchanged for five years and will, it is hoped, remain static for a further prolonged period. I might also mention in this context that our Membership Secretary has thoroughly examined the possibility of introducing facilities for paying subscriptions via direct debit and/or by covenanting. Despite his leaving no stone unturned, it is unfortunate that neither can be implemented, the former being precluded by disproportionate costs, and the latter, potentially a means of maximising income, being deemed unacceptable by the Charity Commissioners.
In the absence of untoward comment from the Charity Commissioners, whose opinion was sought, Council believes these to be appropriate to the Society's position as a registered charity.
E.W. Jones Bequest
This, as you know, included a number of books, which are still being catalogued. There were also microscopes, and Council took the view that Dr Jones' wishes could best be realized by selling two of them to finance the purchase of modern ones for members to buy. The sale was well organized through Christie's by Mrs C.M. Rieser, and raised a figure in excess of the initial valuation.
In all this work, Council is endeavouring to consolidate and celebrate past achievements, as well as to build on them a sound and innovative future. Your participation is needed at every stage and, as always, your help and advice are welcome, so please let a member of Council know your ideas.
M.E. Newton, Hon. Secretary
(BBS Bulletin 65 - March 1995)
Members of Council continue to work hard on behalf of the Society to promote the interests of bryology at every opportunity. The approaching centenary in 1996 provides a stimulus for extra effort, with the result that Council is now in the midst of a very busy programme, which we hope will culminate in a wide range of benefits for the Society and for bryology.
Perhaps I may digress, however, before going into detail, to tell you of two losses the Society has suffered in the deaths of Prof. D.G. Catcheside, who joined the B.B.S. in 1923 and became an Honorary Member, and of Mrs B.E. Bescoby, who was an active and stimulating member in NW England. Both were highly respected.
I must also tell you of the election of Dr A.J.E. Smith to honorary membership. This was proposed by Council in recognition of his work for the Society and of his two standard floras, one on mosses and the other on liverworts. The recommendation was warmly endorsed at the A.G.M.
Registration as a Charity
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
In telling you about these important items of news, I am continuing Council's long-term practice of making its decisions and actions widely known. Council minutes continue to be available for inspection during the spring and autumn meetings, and copies of recent, signed minutes are available on request from the President of the day. With the approaching centenary and the opportunities it affords, the B.B.S. is planning to celebrate the past but, more importantly, is building on it to establish a successful future. I am sure that those of us on Council hope you will all be part of it through co-operation and participation.
M. E. NEWTON
Intensive, imaginative work by members of Council during the year has
laid the foundation for considerable advancement of the Society’s
objectives. Before hearing about it in detail, however, you will be sorry
to learn of the deaths of Mr P.J. Wanstail, a recent President and well-known,
long-term member, as well as of Miss E. Lawton, a supportive overseas
member whose age, I believe, equalled that of the Society.
(BBS Bulletin 61 - February 1993)
Events and achievements of recent months signify consolidation of previous effort, but also considerable innovation. Before telling you about them in detail, however, I am glad to tell you that it was with evident pleasure that members at the A.G.M. elected Dr Michael Proctor, a former President, to Honorary Membership. Not only is he a leading international authority on bryophyte photosynthesis and water-relations, but he has also encouraged many young bryologists undertaking Ph.D. work, introducing many more people to bryology through field course, formerly at Malham Tarn and latterly at Slapton Ley, and his photographs are, of course, legendary.
There is sad news, too, for I must report the deaths of no fewer than six B.B.S. members, Dr Alison Furbank (née Christie), Dr Sinske Hattori, Miss Phyllis Henley, Dr Eustace Jones, Dr Geneva Sayre, who relinquished membership only in recent years, and Dr T.D.V. Swinscow. All were highly respected. Dr Jones had been a mainstay of the Society for 59 years, and both he and Dr Hattori were Honorary Members.
Journal of Bryology
Cumulative Index to B.B.S. Journals
Bryophyte Atlas and Recording
English Names for Bryophytes
Centenary in 1996
While looking back to the Society's origins, it is vital to plan, also, for the future. In doing so, Council welcomes dialogue with every member of the Society and is keen to hear your views.