‘Moor’ lamenting ….

I recently lamented the rarity of the next generation of naturalists and conservationists.  I wonder if the new generation of naturalists, armed with digital cameras and all singing GPS gadgets ever experience the thrill of being taken out on field trips by seasoned field naturalists and getting a little lost amidst the excitement of potential discoveries perhaps.  The abiding memory might be being shown rarities alongside common occurences.  Arguably more importantly, having explained the intricacies in field techniques which then enables accurate determinations to be made in the future?  They will also be told the importance of collecting voucher specimens alongside detailed notes.

Here below we have a recent Thorne Moors discovery, but as yet there is no definitive determination ….

Sphagnum palustre or S. papillosum?

Sphagnum palustre or S. papillosum?

What it does remind us all of is the importance of ensuring that a record as important as this one for the site should come with all the necessary data and a small piece for close scrutiny and verification by peers if appropriate.  Herbarium specimens can form a very useful and valuable reference resource.  How often do we come across records in antiquarian diaries which describe the discovery of an almost mythical species on Thorne Moors only to be frustrated by the failure to provide better resolution data or cross referrencing to a herbarium specimen.   Lest we too fail future generations, make that record count!

Conversely I am reminded of someone who fairly recently thought it wise to publish in the national media the presence and breeding of a Schedule 1 bird on Thorne Moors, since then there have been no successul fledgings of this species.

So perhaps, we need to temper enthusiasm with due diligence as well as a responsible attitude to species protection and their welfare before public gratification and short term column inches achievement.


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