Dear SER friends and colleagues
Voting for positions on the SER board has just opened. You should have received an email from the Society on Friday, with a link to the voting paper and candidate information, if you are a member. If you have not, and are a current member, please let me know.
After 13 years involved in SER activities, I have to decided to run for one of two vacant positions on the Board as a Director-At-Large. James Aronson has very kindly nominated me. I am also grateful to Carolina Murcia, Karel Prach, and Kingsley Dixon for agreeing to act as referees in the first stage of this process.
There are five candidates for two positions as Directors-at-Large. All candidates would be new to the Board. I believe that this healthy competition, and the diversity we represent is, in itself, an indication of renewed vitality in the Society.
You can read the full background to why I am applying below. This information is also available with the voting papers on the link SER has sent you via email if you are a member.
Kim Eierman's excellent EcoBeneficial! enterprise prompts gardeners to think about new ways of looking at the relationships between what they plant, how they plant and how they treat their land to wider environment issues. She kindly asked me to do an interview for her very lively blog, after my presentation on invasive alien plants at New York Botanical Garden in November (see below). The interview covers a range of conservation issues -- ecological restoration, the challenge of climate change, my critique of the very problematic 'novel' ecosystems approach. Kim liked it enough -- or perhaps I was just so garrulous! -- that she split it into two parts. The first part I published here last week, see below. You can listen to the second part here.
Kim Eierman's excellent EcoBeneficial! enterprise prompts gardeners to think about new ways of looking at the relationships between what they plant, how they plant and how they treat their land to wider environment issues. She kindly asked me to do an interview for her very lively blog, after my presentation on invasive alien plants at New York Botanical Garden in November (see below). The interview covers a range of conservation issues -- ecological restoration, the challenge of climate change, my critique of the very problematic 'novel' ecosystems approach. Kim liked it enough -- or perhaps I was just so garrulous! -- that she split it into two parts. Here is the first part, and the other will come in the next few days...
One of the great pleasures, for me at least, of looking for birds and plants in unfamiliar places is finding familiar species in contexts where you wouldn't find them so easily at home; seeing them better, in better light.
So the most exciting find of my first hike in Morocco this year was not seeing some exotic species for the first time, but getting great views of common snipe. I've seen snipe since childhood inn Ireland. But with few exceptions, the experience is a fleeting one: a sudden rush upwards from my feet as these beautiful waders launch from snipe-grass (what else?) into a rapid zig-zag flight, before towering high above and disappearing to somewhere any gun I might be carrying cannot reach them.
But here, in the unromantic but species-rich context of water treatment ponds near Diabat, where Jimi Hendrix is supposed to have composed his second album, I saw a dozen snipe out in the open on water, in brilliant sunlight. They kept feeding away with their oversized beaks, mostly ignoring me, though not letting me close enough to take good pictures. They gave me great pleasure, as did black-winged stilt, half a dozen other wader species, and a juvenile marsh harrier that caused a commotion every ten minutes or so by making a leisurely pass in search of unwary prey.
However, I have to admit that the biggest nature moment so far came a couple of days later, and did not involve a species I could have seen at home.
I was hiking in the blissfully silent, empty-full landscape of adjacent argan and juniper forests in the vast dune system around the Oued Ksob. A slight movement in a wolfberry bush caught my eye. Brilliant green, twisted round a twig, I thought it was a small tree snake of some sort. Then it began to move slowly down the branch, turning brown as it did so, and I realised it was a chameleon. It allowed me approach very close, and demonstrated its remarkably facility for turning its eye through 360 degrees...a moment to treasure.
Video of my presentation at NY Botanical Garden Summit on alien invasive plant management goes live today
I gave the keynote address on alien invasive plant management at the very well attended Lower Hudson PRISM Summit on 3 November. You can see a video of the presentation, and the whole summit, here.
In summary, I argued that the poorly conceived 'novel ecosystem' theory has led to the popular notion that 'invasive plants will save nature' (Fred Pearce). This is scientifically false and undermines sound conservation policy; but I also argued that 'removal alone is not enough' , that ecological restoration is the best way to cope with the challenge, and that the new International Standards published by SER provide the best restoration guidance currently available.
Articles & Blog
Articles on the environment; Spanish, Catalan and Basque politics; travel; culture; and other subjects; interspersed with personal reflections and images