Most gardeners are good botanists and when interrogated will often reveal a profound knowledge of garden ecology and the wildlife that inhabits their garden and beyond. Many of us take part in all kinds of surveys from garden birds to butterflies and have unbeknowingly been secretly recruited as “citizen scientists”. We have all been citizen scientists long before the PR guru/media nerd, who invented this awful phrase, was let out of kindergarden. Infact amateur naturalists have been pottering way in the countryside since before Gilbert White took holy orders and William Turner became the father of English botany.
It really has taken the men in grey suits rather a long time to realise most of our knowledge on the flora and fauna of the British Isles is based on the work of amateur naturalists. Moreover this army of volunteers can be mobilised to provide a whole host of environmental information for almost nothing. A prospect to make any government accountants heart beat with joy. However, appearances can be deceptive and some of these genteel and mild-mannered amateur ‘ologists, whilst not exactly eco-warriors, can be surprisingly fierce when roused
So as one of the “leaders” of a ragtag gang of assorted ‘ologists (we can only manage a dozen or so on a good day so we don’t count as an army) last week I was on my way to Inverness to “speak truth unto power”. I don’t normally drag my soapbox all the way across Scotland, but sometimes you can’t beat a face to face frank exchange of views and even a little metaphorical table thumping. This was just the opening skirmish, and it will be a hard fought battle, but we are a stubborn and determined bunch and even if we can’t win we will gain major concessions.
So far the only casualty has been my blog which is suffering from neglect and my posts are more erratic than ever. My muse is also grumbling but has been told that she has to exercise her grey matter and put her literary pretensions aside. So my apologies, the periods of AWOL will be more frequent, but I’m still around, reading your posts, visiting your gardens and enjoying your adventures.
If you want to discover more about the “edge of the world ragtag gang” (aka Outer Hebrides Biological Recording) we have a website and a paininthe*book page (I don’t understand social media but apparently we have to have one).