First there were rocks…

I am a botanist. I studied taxonomy, I learned all about plant ecology, I spent days looking at pollen grains under a microscope, I became a master of identification keys. Life made me deviate into horticulture, or shall I say, the art of understanding how to keep plants alive in cultivation. There is however one…

Borneo memories – Kinabatangan river

This blog post is going to feature a trip I made in 2010 to Borneo’s Kinabatangan river. What could prompt me to go so far down memory lane? The answer is a campaign launched on Twitter to save this Bornean biodiversity heaven from destruction. English naturalist & TV presenter Steve Backshall and his wife, Olympic champion rower Helen…

Behind the monoculture

I have recently moved to North East France, my home region. Around here, most fields at this time of the year are filled by wheat, barley, rye or oats, making wonderful golden tinted pictures in the sun. But in some fields cereals are all that can be seen. Not a single weed in sight, not the…

Bioblitzing

This weekend was held the second edition of the Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Bioblitz at Wisley Common Nature Reserve near Woking. Now, as I can imagine your eyebrows raising – what on earth is a “Bioblitz”??? As I’m lazy, here is Wikipedia’s definition (but it’s actually quite good) : “A BioBlitz is an intense period of…

How much biodiversity on a roadside?

I have been obsessed by roadbanks and escarpments since travelling to South-East Asia. Walking in the rainforest, you can’t help but be amazed by the diversity of plants, invertebrates, birds, and mosses living on these slopes. Here in Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, this ranged from blue spikemosses like this Selaginella uncinata, to jewel orchids with iridescent leaf veins (Anoectochilus…

Behind the scenes at Kew Gardens…

No need to introduce Kew Gardens, this 121 hectare estate in the middle of London, home to the world’s largest collection of living plants and producing the finest botanical research! When I read about a “Tropical Nursery Event”, that would enable people to see discover some of the secrets of the tropical greenhouses, I booked…

Unexpected biodiversity : the cemetery episode

When you think of cemeteries, you usually think of sadness, gloominess and death. But cemeteries are also peaceful and quiet places, where plants and animals can thrive with little disturbance… I visited the Cimetière de Schaerbeek (which is one of the 19 municipalities of Brussels) with scientists from the AEF (a Belgian association which studies…

Ode à la Plaine

Comme certains lecteurs le savent peut-être, le campus de la Plaine est en passe de perdre sa quiétude…et pas mal de biodiversité! Les explications et détails du projet sont donnés sur ce site : http://laplaine.jimdo.com mais voilà un bref rappel concernant la situation. Les terrains de la Plaine regroupent un campus double (deux universités :…

Tiger or earth worm? The dilemma of conservation

“Le Monde ” online edition recently published an article with a pretty catchy title, “Tigre ou ver de terre, qui vaut-il mieux protéger?” (which roughly translates as ” Tiger or earthworm, who is it best to protect?”) This is a topic that troubles and divides scientists, NGO workers and the public. The fact : Since…