Where were a small group of botanists on a dull, damp and rainy Monday morning? I shall tell you – on a training session at Rainton Meadows listening to an interesting presentation on Mapmate. We were in this particular room because the other rooms were occupied by school children or adults on different training courses. Even on a wet day Rainton is busy!
What is Mapmate you ask? It is a software package designed to record, map, analyse and share your natural history findings. It is not confined to plants but can be used for butterflies, birds and delightful slugs. The distribution maps automatically update as you or others add data therefore giving the latest picture. Access to it (fee involved) would also allow you to find the site of a rare plant which you could visit and then see if you could find others in a nearby location. Might be useful for this year’s hunt for the May Lily. There is a support network if you find difficulty using it. It can also be used to produce newsletters and other publications by copying information into most word processors. Enough of the technical details! However, if you are interested visit: www.mapmate.co.uk
Back to the training session, 50% of the participants had heard of the programme but didn’t know much else and 50% had never heard of it. By the end of the session we were well versed. We found it could be used to “map” a small area or large area which would be useful when we are out surveying. The cost is £32 but if there is a group of 10 interested the cost comes down to £25. Have a look and if there is interest out there let Steve Gater know by 17th March. When we first started looking at it, it seemed a little complicated especially as I had convinced myself it was going to be difficult. However, the more I listened it seemed to be a basic record keeping programme via your computer with the programme doing most of the work for you. Much more fun than keeping long lists that you might never refer to again!
We were all sent away to mull over all that we had learnt. I do keep records of all the flowers and grasses we find whilst out on our botany events, I am not a computer expert but can usually get it to do what I want it to do so maybe…… All you need is a computer with a mouse or if you are old fashioned like me, the price of software and time! Thanks Keith R for a very interesting demonstration and Steve for arranging it.
Thanks to Carole Lloyd for writing this piece! Keep an eye out for other Botany related posts.