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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Botany Study Group field work

Somerset Wildlife Trust,   Heart of the Levels Botany Group

Feb field trip 2012.

In its third year the Groups programme of activities for 2012 puts the emphasis on field work.
Our first session was on Feb 7th. It was a fairly cold but luckily dry day. We met up at 10.30 am and walked to a small private wooded area , where the owner had planted a large variety of trees around 30 years ago.The venue was chosen to give us an opportunity to practice our winter tree identification skills.

There were 15 members present, all well wrapped up against the cold, and led by Anne Bebbington. Most of us have been with the Group since its start up with one or two recent new members.

For this field session we worked using an identification system published by CT Prime and RJ Deacock. We followed their key to identify around 20 different species. They included for example, English Elm, Crack Willow,Horse Chestnut, Cherry and Blackthorn.
As a bonus this last species gave us the chance to search for and find Brown Hairstreak Butterfly eggs.

After about 2 hours field work we had a pleasant lunch at The Angel cafe and community centre in Langport.

This was followed by another fascinating presentation by Anne using Johns very special photography to review much of the greatly magnified detail of the buds, bark and catkins we had found on our walk.

This first field session was a great success.

Our next outing in March will take place on a meadow in Curry Rivel. The aim will be an introduction to survey methods used by Botanist to identify and record the presence of flowers and plants in an organised and measured way. Such records are of fundamental importance in the conservation of the natural environment.

This is of considerable topical interest as the Government introduces Neighbourhood Planning schemes. Surveys of local remaining unspoilt fields and woods will be vital in the formulation of local planning schemes. Every Parish in Somerset needs this work to be undertaken.

DG 9.2.12

South Somerset Climate Action Group

A lot is happening in the world of Somerset Wildlife Trust!
The trust has announced a new management structure to help in these difficult times, we had one of our regular meetings of all our local area volunteer groups at Frome on Monday, I was pleased to be part of our first field session for our Botany Study Group on Tuesday ( more soon on that) and last night I attended a discussion meeting in Ilminster.  Here are some initial comments on that:

South Somerset Climate Action Group.
Presentation with question and answer session.
Topics covered: New economic thinking, business as usual pursuit of GDP and growth,Tim Jackson, secure renewable energy supplies, 2050 European target for carbon reduction and many others.
Stewart Wallis, NEF  ( New Economic Forum)      

Sir Graham Watson MEP

A brief history of the meeting!
A revelation, inspiring, ( which is why I'm writing this now), eye opening, plain speaking and understandable talk by two very well qualified speakers.
The SSCA must be thinking this was a milestone in their short history. I've followed the groups since coming to live in Somerset and applaud the work it does.

Giving a few facts and figures doesn’t convey the impact of the important messages being presented.
I'm very impressed by the NEF ( New Economic Forum) and by the MEP's work in Europe.
I hope to see a copy of Stewarts presentation soon and will post more information then.
In the meantime here is an extract from the NEF web site:

New Economic Forum
"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist" - Kenneth Boulding
There is nothing ‘natural’ about our current economic arrangements. They have been consciously designed to achieve a simple objective: growth. But growth is not making us happier, it is creating dysfunctional and unequal societies, and if it continues will make large parts of the planet unfit for human habitation.  

We need to do things differently, and soon. 

This means starting from first principles and building a new model for how the economy functions. Right now every one of us is dependent on growth. The way our economy is structured means that unless there is growth people lose their jobs, the tax base shrinks and politicians struggle to fund the public services we all rely on every day.

Sir Graham Watson had a tougher job following on from Stewart. It was really eye opening to hear about European thinking on the need for a high voltage DC electricity grid system across Europe. Capable of bringing electricity from solar power stations in north Africa.
( we have had such a link in operation for many years bringing electricity from French nuclear power stations to Kent via DC cables across the Channel )

Here is a relevant quote from Sir Graham's web site, click here:

Tue, 07 Feb 2012
Liberal Democrat MEP and ELDR President Sir Graham Watson, who is Chairman of a global network of MPs and MEPs from all mainstream political parties working to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy called the Climate Parliament has today said that the switch to green energy has now become just as much an energy security issue as an environmental imperative.
Commenting on the ongoing crisis where Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Germany have experienced reductions of up to 30% in Russian gas supplies from Gazprom over the last few days, Sir Graham said:

"The freezing conditions across Europe highlight yet again the dangers of being so overly-reliant on Russia for a quarter of our gas. Gazprom has - understandably - diverted its supplies to keep Russian homes warm, leaving many European countries short and prices on the rise."

There were many questions from an audience of over 100!