Sustained dedication to the conservation of plants in Scotland merited an MBE in the New Year Honours list for Dr Heather McHaffie of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).
Serving as Scottish Plants Officer at the Garden since 2003, McHaffie has a particular interest in ferns and gained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh for research on Athyrium distentifolium (alpine lady-fern) in Scotland. A popular teacher, she delivers courses on ferns and conservation for RBGE's MSc, BSc and HND courses and on native plant identification for the general public and other interested groups.
She is currently working closely with RBGE's Horticulture Division on the "Target 8" project in the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, which aims to develop techniques for the cultivation of vulnerable and endangered native plants using various reintroduction programmes.
Acknowledging her New Year Honour award, McHaffie commented: "All the work I have done has only been possible because it was underpinned by enthusiastic support from Horticulture staff at RBGE and a large number of dedicated individuals all over Scotland, both in societies and in Scottish Natural Heritage. I am glad to see the recognition of the importance of plant conservation."
Paying tribute to McHaffie's dedication, RBGE Director of Science, Professor Pete Hollingsworth, said it was fitting that her conservation work should be acknowledged: "I am delighted that Heather McHaffie's work has been recognised by the award of an MBE. Heather has worked with upmost dedication to promote plant conservation in Scotland. Her work includes developing our understanding of the threats faced by rare species, the reintroduction of plant species into the wild when populations have been lost, and enthusing and training people in plant identification skills and how to undertake practical conservation projects. Heather truly is an inspiration – she is an excellent scientist and conservationist, a first rate communicator, and she packages all of this with a wonderfully engaging down-to-earth approachability. Her MBE is richly deserved."
Outside RBGE, McHaffie sits on the education sub-committee of the British Pteridological (fern) Society and has a long-standing association with Kindrogan Field Centre, Scotland's National Centre for Excellence in Field Studies and Biodiversity Training, near Pitlochry, where she runs courses.