Southern Hemisphere in Scotland: Benmore Botanic Garden

Scotland’s flagship botanic garden, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is, contrary to its name not entirely based in the city of Edinburgh. The collection is split across four sites: Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore, each having their own specialties. Benmore, set within the Loch Lomond &  Trossachs National Park, is distinguished by its mountain character, and high rainfall (>2000mm) which makes it such…

London – wild and wet

For Christmas, I have part-received and part-offered a WWT membership. As some of you will be wondering what that is, well, WWT is the acronym of Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, a charity founded in 1946 whose ambition is to conserve wetlands in the UK and abroad. In the UK, the WWT manages 9 reserves, including one in…

Plant Hunting in the 21st century

Last month, I attended a lecture on “Plant Hunting in the 21st century” at the Linnean Society in London. Organised by the Systematics Association, it was given by John Wood, Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford and keen plant collector. With Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace watching carefully, this could only be an interesting and controversial session….

Another home, another heath

A few weeks ago, I moved from Guildford to Woking and decided to explore a few local nature reserves. Located south of the town centre, Prey Heath and Smart’s Heath are two SSSIs (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) sustaining a very diverse heathland fauna and flora. Both reserves were not grazed for many years, and as…

Rainbow colours

No, I’m not talking real rainbows…the rainfall over Surrey has been really low this month, and the sight of yellow lawns and falling leaves might well be a lasting one! I’m talking grasslands, chalk grasslands again, but this time a bit different from the ones found in Guildford. This is Sheepleas reserve, managed by Surrey…

The fascinating world of butterflies on display

This month at Wisley, the RHS has organized an event called “Butterflies in the Glasshouse“. If you have the courage to brave the queues and noisy children (or if you have the chance to visit it on weekdays!), this is a fantastic opportunity to take a closer look at tropical butterflies (but I so wish people would…

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…

Dormouse discovery

Last week, I took a brilliant course on Dormouse Ecology and Surveying, organized by Sussex Wildlife Trust. I was particularly excited because the hazel dormouse is extinct in Brussels (and very rare in the rest of Belgium), so I had never had the chance to see one, let alone learn more about this charming creature….

Chalky Guildford

Having settled comfortably in my new town, I decided to have a look at the (wonderfully made) website of Surrey Wildlife Trust, which manages dozens of nature reserves in the county, to find walk ideas in the area. The first reserve we decided to visit, located on the South-Eastern boundaries of Guildford town is called…

How do bats cross a motorway?

I got the chance to take part in a survey organized by two local bat groups, Plecobrux & Vleermuizenwerkgroep Brussel in Brussels two weeks ago to answer this interesting question. In the East – South-East of Brussels lies a very large forest called the “Forêt de Soignes“. Now mainly populated with beeches and oaks, it has…

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…

Big trees are dying

While browsing the morning news, I stumbled on this pretty disturbing article by William Laurance, a researcher from James Cook University, Australia. Link here : http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328491.800-big-trees-in-trouble-how-the-mighty-are-falling.html?page=2 Called “Big trees in trouble: How the mighty are falling”, it raises interesting facts and questions about big trees and forests in general. So… The obvious : Big trees are 1)…