Curious Minds 8.7: Who’s got the Maintenance Manual for Planet Earth?

For this year’s McAlpine Lecture, Professor James Curran (visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde, amongst many other positions held including former chair of SEPA) spoke to us about the state of climate change.

From problems – CO2 emissions leading to global warming, biodiversity loss, extreme weather events and more – to how our perception of the solutions should change, understanding Sustainable Development of the environment supporting society and the the (circular) economy.

The video can be seen on our Youtube channel:

The Environmental History of the Tay


On Wednesday 17th January Professor Richard Oram spoke about his recently completed two-year project on the environmental history of the Tay, from the arrival of the first hunter-gatherers until the present day. This was an inspiring overview of the mass of material he is about to transform into a series of books. His gallop through the ages revealed a host of fascinating details, not least that the elites’ monopoly of the hunting forests, however unjust, tended to ensure their preservation. Above all we learned how greatly humans have altered the landscape and the river since earliest times and how seemingly untouched rural spots may be sullied by industrial pollution. 

As a policy advisor, Professor Oram is well placed to ensure the lessons of history inform current decision-making.



“Perthshire’s threatened Butterflies and Moths”

Anthony McCluskey, Conservation Manager, Butterfly Conservation, Scotland

Wednesday, 6th March in the Sandeman Room of the AK Bell Library

Since joining the Butterfly Conservation, Anthony McCluskey has thrown himself into the task, taking active measures to create the right conditions to encourage our Butterflies and Moths. Lovely looking insects, our gardens, meadows and woodlands wouldn’t be the same without them. How well do we know them and how threatened are they?

The Section AGM and Member’s Night

Wednesday, 20th March, 7:30pm in The Sandeman Room of the AK Bell Library

Support the Section and our committee, come along and tell us what you would like to see happen at our future meetings, and consider joining the committee.

Our Member’s Night is the opportunity for anyone to tell us something about what they have been doing or discovered. Have you had an interesting time somewhere, away in the wilds or close to home? Is there an interest of your own that hasn’t been covered in this year’s programme that you could talk about?


“Perthshire Local Biodiversity Sites”

Wednesday, 28th February in the Sandeman Room of the AK Bell Library

With Robert Wills, PKC

There is a Tayside Biodiversity Action Plan, thoroughly detailed, which makes it a somewhat daunting document to read. We know our biodiversity is not in good order and somehow we must rise to the challenge of improving this state of affairs. What are the plans for a remedy? Local Biodiversity sites are found from the River Tay to the high hills.

The Winter Programme in brief

Winter Talks Programme 2023 – 24

In the Sandeman Room, AK Bell Library, Perth, Wednesdays at 7.30pm


January 10th,           “The Isle of May Uncovered,”

                                  Work and life on the island, research to puffins and everything in between. And what you can see during the year.

David Steel, Nature Reserve Manager, NatureScot

January 31st,           “My first year as BSBI Scotland Officer”

                                  The role, botanical highlights of the year, the Plant   Atlas promotion and a look to the future of the BSBI in Scotland

Matt Harding, BSBI Scotland Office

February 28th,          “Perthshire Local Biodiversity sites, projects progress and their place in planning,”

Robert Wills, PKC

March 6th,               “Perthshire’s threatened Butterflies and Moths,”

Anthony McCluskey, Conservation Manager, Butterfly Conservation, Scotland

March 20th,              AGM and Member’s Night

“My First Year as BSBI Scotland Officer,’ with Matt Harding, Scotland Officer

 7:30 pm on Wednesday 31st January

Matt Harding, Scotland Officer for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI), will talk about his first year in this unique role, share some botanical highlights, discuss the BSBI’s Plant Atlas 2020, and look ahead to the future of the BSBI in Scotland.

A whirlwind first year took Matt from Unst to Teesdale, and from village halls to the Scottish Parliament, taking in both distinguished botanical hotspots such as Ben Lawers and Keen of Hamar, and, perhaps, lesser-known delights such as Dollar Glen with us, the Nature Section. Matt will discuss the varied nature of his role supporting botanical recorders across Scotland, promoting botanical skills training, organising events, and even botanising from time to time! 2023 also saw the publication of the BSBI’s Plant Atlas 2020, the most in-depth survey of the British and Irish flora ever undertaken and the product of 20 years of dedication and hard work by botanists across Britain and Ireland. Matt will share the concerning findings of this remarkable project and discuss the role Plant Atlas 2020 can play in helping to address the biodiversity crisis we are facing.

Matt basking in the glow of Diapensia, Diapensia lapponica, at its only British site above Glenfinnan.