County herbarium is all set for Horncastle

Some of the officials involved in the Love Lincolnshire Plants project that will feature Horncastle.
Some of the officials involved in the Love Lincolnshire Plants project that will feature Horncastle.

A new collection of thousands of Lincolnshire plants will be gathered over three years and housed in a herbarium at the Sir Joseph Banks Centre in Horncastle as part of a unique project which has secured half-a-million pounds in National Lottery funding.

The Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust - based in Horncastle - has secured a £499,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the ‘Love Lincolnshire 
Plants’ project.

The three year project will work in partnership with the Natural History Museum in London, the Sir Joseph Banks Society, Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union and the University of Lincoln to inspire a new generation of botanists - helping to safeguard our understanding of plants and the environment for the future.

There is already an ‘old’ collection for 9,000 plants 
from across the county that has been compiled by the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union over the last 150 years.

However, with no proper storage facilities available in the county, the collection - which includes some of Lincolnshire rarest plants - is at serious risk of deterioration.

As part of the Lottery funded project, the Natural History Museum in London has received the collection and will work to secure it safely while using state of the art imaging technology to make plants available to view online.

The actual plants will be integrated into the ‘National Collection’ which features between 800,000 and one million herbarium specimens.

The ‘old’ collection was inspired by Sir Joseph Banks, an 18th century botanist who was Lord of the Manor of Horncastle.

It is the new collection of herbarium plants that will be based and available for 
viewing at the Sir Joseph Banks Centre, once the project has been completed.

Volunteers are needed to help collect the plants and will work under the guidance of the Wildlife Trust. Collections will start next Spring and anyone interested should contact the Wildlife Trust or Banks S ociety.

This citizen-science project will not only train volunteers in plant identification, it will also find a new role for threatened traditional archiving skills, ensuring that volunteers are trained in the collection, preparation and mounting of specimens as well as opportunities to gain skills in botanical illustration and photography. A series of lifelong learning events and public engagement will begin in spring 2018 and continue until autumn 2020.

Chris Manning, Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union, said:

“We are delighted to receive Heritage Lottery Fund grant and excited to be working on this ambitious project.  The Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union and the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust have a long history of working together. With the additional expertise of the Natural History Museum this work can be expanded scientifically. The Sir Joseph Banks Society expands the scope culturally and historically through the continuing influence of the world-renowned botanist. This will enable the partnership to engage with wider audiences, thereby generating a better understanding of Lincolnshire’s flora, past, present and future.”

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said:

“We are delighted that National Lottery players have been able to support the preservation of Lincolnshire’s historic herbarium. The project offers a fantastic opportunity for local people to emulate Sir Joseph Banks, work with the Natural History Museum, create a new collection of flora for Lincolnshire, and inspire and train a new generation of botanists”.