The Churchyards Sub-Committee is an active part of the Conservation Committee, and deals primarily with data collection, conservation, and research relating to the BLS Churchyard Survey.
This was instigated in the early 1990s by the late Tom Chester, with the aim of surveying at least one churchyard in each of the 10km squares covering lowland Britain. This has now been achieved and the emphasis has moved on to churchyard surveys covering the south west (now almost completed), Wales and the Welsh Borders, Northern England (almost complete), Scotland and Northern Ireland. This ongoing work has continued to emphasise the importance of the churchyard environment to lichen conservation.
Over the next few years there will also be a focus on repeat surveys of churchyards that have not been visited since the 1980-90s, where changing environmental conditions may have led to considerable changes in the lichen flora. In some the improvements in air quality have led to an increase in lichen diversity, but others will have suffered from the shade of maturing trees and the modern practice of leaving parts of churchyards unmanaged as "wildlife" areas, or from the increase in atmospheric nitrogen pollutants, ammonia and NOX. Resurvey of churchyards will provide valuable data on how widespread these issues are and their effects on different lichen species.
The committee is chaired by Ivan Pedley, assisted by Ishpi Blatchley and Mark Powell. Regional coordinators manage areas of England:
- ‘the lowland triangle’ comprising 35 vice-counties of lowland England
- South-west England
- West Midlands & the Welsh Borders
- Northern England.
There are also co-ordinators for Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Contact details are given in the Factsheet.
Members of the sub-committee respond to churchyard queries from dioceses, church incumbents, and the public through our network of diocesan contacts/representatives. Hard copies of churchyard species records are kept by the regional coordinators and the records are included in the BLS database.
Each year a field meeting, known as the "works outing", is arranged to review knowledge and impart ID skills in respect of critical genera.