Vicky Purewal: Botanical Conservation Officer
Tel +44 (0)29 2057 3119 Fax +44 (0)29 2023 9829
Conservation within the botany section of the department of Biodiversity and Systematic Biology (BioSyB) is a challenging responsibility. The collections include higher and lower plant specimens, wood sections, botanical wax models, archives, photographs, prints and drawings. The condition of the collections is the responsibility of the botanical conservator who endeavours to monitor, clean, re-mount, re-packet, re-house and repair to the best of their ability. The collections are conserved to a high standard, increasing longevity and accessibility. A broad knowledge of mixed collections is vital and the conservator has attended various training courses in Britain and abroad.
Main areas of expertise include re-mounting of herbarium specimens through humidification, floating out of mounted, aquatic specimens, condition surveying, freezing and freeze drying as a method of pest control, conservation of paper labels and data, wax model conservation and the identification of pesticide residues on natural history specimens. A basic knowledge of book binding, paper conservation and photographic conservation is also a prerequisite within this department.
The botany material is housed within the National Museum of Wales Herbarium. The vascular collections are kept flat on archival sheets and are mounted using straps and not glued. The lower plant material is stored in packets of cotton paper, in drawers within a roller racking system. The collections are frozen at temperatures of -20?C for 72 hours on a rotational basis and all in-coming loan material is frozen immediately. As freezing is regular practice within NMGW it is important not to glue the collections to the sheets. Strapping allows some movement, which is imperative with organic material, which needs to respond to changes in relative humidity.
Current projects involve
- Embarking on a PhD researching the presence and identification of pesticide residues on herbarium sheets.
- In-house training of students in botanical conservation, alongside geological and zoological conservation as part of a natural history conservation certificate.
- On-going conservation of the varied collections housed within the botany division of the department of BioSyB.
- Maintenance and conservation of the natural history galleries.
Role in BioSyB
- Researching and presentation of projects to national and international conservation groups.
- Conserving of herbaria and non-herbarium material.
- Advising on conservation needs within the department regarding storage, environment, display and collections condition.
- Microscopic wood identification
- Minimal requirement of identification of insect pests, higher and lower specimens.
- Answering of queries regarding all aspects of conservation within botany.