In early summer 2015 the UES ecologists tested their plant identification skills by completing BSBI’s Field Identification Skills Certificate (FISC). The test determines your botanical skill level from 1 (basic ID skills) to 7 (outstanding) and measures your botanical knowledge in-situ. For some of us it was our first time while the others were hoping to improve on last year’s results and move up the botanical skills pyramid.

The test started with a lab session where we had to ID 30 specimens, all collected from around the British Isles. It started with some common species such as Cock’s foot, Ivy and Ox-eye daisy, then moved on to the lesser known species including Curved sedge, Sea sandwort, Navelwort and Bladder campion. The next part of the test was out in the field at a small site near Wenlock Edge. We were given a couple of hours to record as many species in the small site as possible, keeping in mind we would score minus points for incorrect species. Our recorded species were then marked against the species logged by the professional botanist.

A couple of weeks later the results were in: Graduate ecologists Suzie Hine and Declan Ghee gained Level 3 (Phase 1 Habitat level). Toby Hart, Kathryn James and Stewart Bradshaw all gained Level 4 (NVC level).

UES will be taking part in the test again this July.