What does Chris provide - the truth about Himalayan flora...

1.  ENTERTAINING, INFORMATIVE DIGITAL PRESENTATIONS for clubs and societies - why not draw this site to the attention of the programme secretaries of any societies you belong to?  Whilst a majority of his talks are to gardening and horticultural societies he has a "general-interest" style also speaking to such groups as National Trust Centres, Probus, Social Clubs, WI and the like.  Whilst enjoying excellent images of flowers along the Himalaya (and other parts of the world), his insightful lectures are ones delivered by a knowledgeable photo-journalist, whose first-hand expertise about the environment of the Himalaya is second-to-none.


2.   CO-FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF THE HIMALAYAN PLANT ASSOCIATION producing 50+ journals since 1990.  As of January 2018 Chris is preparing the March 2018 Journal - which will be issue number 52.  See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/latest-situation


3.    PHOTOGRAPHIC IDENTIFICATION GUIDES to 'FLOWERS OF THE WESTERN HIMALAYA' - these are divided into four regions: FLOWERS OF KASHMIR; FLOWERS OF LADAKH (Little Tibet); FLOWERS OF LAHAUL & SPITI (Borderlands of Western Tibet); FLOWERS OF UPPER HIMACHAL PRADESH (Kulu Valley, Chamba, Kangra, Shimla district, Kinnaur).  These will be available for sale as CDs.The project began in January and is likely to take a couple of years to complete. Each species included will typically have between 4 and 6 images (sometimes more, occasionally only 1 or 2) which transforms the diagnostic characteristics which can be illustrated compared to the typically single photo reproduced in traditional printed guides. So much more can be learnt about every species and much greater confidence can be had in your resulting identifications.  Those who purchase the CDs will enjoy naming the plants they photographed during treks on foot or by vehicle to view road-side plants but if they still struggle to match/track down some of them, do not hesitate to contact Chris about sending images of any unknowns to him (which will enrich his reference collection which is always an on-going task). There will always be less common species which have never be photographed or only to a poor standard photographically or not in close-up.  Also, it is important to have images taken through the growing season including the fruiting stage or before peak flowering.  Habitat shots which reveal the ecological conditions for each species are invaluable - and if you have the necessary wide-angle lens, represent truly wonderful photos.  Someone who has managed this to a high standard is Marijn van den brink, examples of his splendid images which always inspire me, are those taken in Baltistan, Pakistan see: http://photos.v-d-brink.eu/Flora-and-Fauna/Asia/Pakistan-new/i-CkSw2Ts  and Khumbu Himal, Nepal, see:

In addition, Chris is working on guides to the representatives of individual genera found within the North-West Himalaya (covering the states of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh above 1500-2000m), starting with PRIMULA then ANDROSACE, SAXIFRAGA, CLEMATIS, IRIS, DELPHINIUM, GERANIUM, ARISAEMA, RHODODENDRON and other genera. Work on these began at the end of 2016.  Substantial progress has been made with the account of Primula which includes many fine colour photos of species in the wild and cultivation plus close-up images of quality herbarium specimens (Kew has digitized some of the millions of pressed specimens it has in its herbarium but they are of limited use, being of low resolution, such that the close-up detail to help distinguish between similar species cannot be observed; furthermore, they seem to have begun largely with 19th Century specimens, which vary in usefulness.  I hope they will soon adopt Edinburgh Botanic Garden's approach of making higher resolution images. 

His long-term VIRTUAL GUIDE to the FLORA OF THE NORTH-WEST HIMALAYA continues.  Within this site you receive in-depth advice on how to correctly identify plants. The entries for each species contain many more images (at times up to 30 or more) illustrating in close-up detail floral parts and foliage plus overall habit, not forgetting habitat.  This provides much greater detail than has EVER been possible with traditional printed books.  A good example is the page for 'Himalayan Balsam' (Impatiens glandulifera), see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/fowh/impatiens-1.  For serious amateurs, students and professional botanists, do consult this whole site, to learn how we can all, thanks to the wonders of digital photography, greatly improve standards and reliability of plant identification; in many cases, provided one learns how to take quality close-ups in sharp focus of ALL the necessary parts/characteristics of every plant, these images can improve upon what information can be obtained from pressed specimens alone (there is still a role for these) and largely, where collection of such herbarium specimens is no longer permitted, replace them, see: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/fowh/  - though ONLY if one studies plants in the mountains properly and methodically.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to correctly determine the abundance or rarity of a species sat in an office or from scrappy, poor quality pressed specimens, with few, if any accompanying field notes - especially if large areas have not been explored adequately (if at all) especially steep terrain, amongst rocks and boulders, particularly at high altitudes.  Unless one walks, scrambles about and treks extensively, the flora of any part of the Himalaya will remain poorly known (data-deficient), takes copious quantities of high quality digital images and/or pressed specimens plus is able to recognise and assess occurrence of individual species whilst "in the field".  Serious, competent botanists should enjoy exploring for plants in the field.  Unfortunately, most so-called revisions of genera from Indian consist largely of accounts of pressed specimens in herbaria and far too many of them gathered by Britishers a century or more ago.....  This thoroughly unacceptable situation MUST be remedied.
  

4.    UK TRAVEL 'BLOG': https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/uk-travel-blog-2015-16


5.    WILD FLOWERS OF IVER & DISTRICT 'BLOG' : https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/main/-flowers-of-iver-district-blog

6.    IDENTIFICATION OF HIMALAYAN PLANTS - IF YOU HAVE TAKEN PHOTOGRAPHS (or gathered pressed specimens) OF PLANTS IN THE HIMALAYA - WHETHER ON HOLIDAY OR FOR STUDY/RESEARCH PURPOSES, CHRIS IS AVAILABLE TO ACCURATELY and RELIABLY IDENTIFY THESE (as far as is possible from the images sent).  HIS PRIME EXPERTISE LIES IS IN THE FLORA OF THE WESTERN HIMALAYA AND BORDERLANDS OF WESTERN TIBET BUT MAY WELL BE ABLE TO NAME SPECIES FROM MOST OTHER PARTS OF THE HIMALAYA (though his knowledge of lower elevation sub-tropical and tropical flora is minimal) See: https://sites.google.com/a/shpa.org.uk/fowh/

Chris has been deeply concerned by a number of FAKE organisations pretending to 'conserve' Himalayan plants utilised in Tibetan Medicine - especially as these have been back and supported by certain charities, along with very well-known figures backing them, leading to significant sums of money being WRONGLY donated.  Chris hesitates to expose the well-known figures, as he would not be popular if he does, as at the very best they have been "gullible"......
Furthermore, he is troubled by the FALSE submissions to CITES and IUCN.  He has attempted to raise these matters before but the major institutions and International bodies have ignored him.  He considers that morally he should pursue this 'difficult' matter further. He wonders how many people would believe him, as major figures, institutions and leading media tend to be trusted.   Check the navigation bar on the leaf-hand-side for more details if you are curious.  Chris would welcome encouragement and support to go further.


9.    RECOMMENDATION OF SITES WHERE ONE CAN VIEW OUTSTANDING IMAGES OF HIMALAYAN FLOWERS (and usually spectacular accompanying mountain scenery):

http://photos.v-d-brink.eu/Flora-and-Fauna/Asia/Pakistan-new/i-CkSw2Ts  Baltistan (Pakistan, strictly speaking Karakoram Range - similar flora to Ladakh's)































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