Looking Back at the 2023 British and Irish Botanical Conference

NHSN Student Naturalist, Aimee Shovlar, shares her experience at the annual BSBI conference, held in Newcastle for the first time in December

On Saturday the 2nd of December, the BSBI held their annual conference at the University of Newcastle with the help of NHSN. As a part of my placement with NHSN, I was helping with setting up, manning the NHSN stall and packing up after the conference. As a bonus, I was able to attend the talks and visit the other stalls while I was there.

This was the first conference I had attended, and I did not know what to expect. The turnout was amazing, BSBI staff mentioned this was perhaps the biggest turnout they have had so far. I also got to chat with a few attendees – some had come from as far as Kent and London to be here, and others were locals and members of NHSN.

The general theme of the talks was urban botany, with the first set of talks being on developing a passion for urban botany, the second set of talks focusing on supporting botanical research to help address biodiversity loss and climate change, and the last set of talks being on resources to sustain and develop the botanical community. The talks were inspiring and despite not knowing much about plant ID, I had the urge to give it a go after. One talk that particularly stands out to me is beginner botanist, Natasha Foxford’s talk ‘Getting started with plant ID’, challenging herself to ID 100 plants in a year and surpassing that goal by three times is truly impressive and inspiring.

The stalls consisted of a few smaller botany-themed groups and a bookshop. I was especially distracted by the variety of books they had on display, and I even went home with a couple. I managed to get a signed copy of Plants of Holy Island by Chris & Hazel Metherell, with beautiful illustrations and even a map on the inside of the book cover. I cannot wait to visit Holy Island with this book in hand.

Overall, my first conference not only taught me about the botanists around me but also inspired me to join them. I hope this conference was as inspiring for me as it was for everyone else who attended.

If you missed out on the conference, BSBI uploaded a few of the talks to their YouTube channel including talks from NHSN’s Senior Naturalist, James Common.

Aimee Shovlar
Student Naturalist

Aimee is a Zoology student at the University of Cumbria. She is currently working at NHSN as a Student Naturalist.

She also runs a Hedgehog society at her university which is focused on making the campus Hedgehog friendly.