Minutes of the 12th Annual General Meeting of PlantNetwork

(1) Welcome and apologies

Matthew Jebb, Chairman of the Board, welcomed all those present.
Apologies had been received from Hugh Angus, Alasdair Hood and Harvey Stephens.

(2) Minutes of the Eleventh Annual General Meeting

Minutes of the meeting held on 1 May 2007 at Glasgow Botanic Gardens were approved.

(3) Report for the year to 31 March 2008, by Matthew Jebb, Chairman of the Board

Meetings: A full programme of meetings had been held, including conferences, forum groups and other training days. All had been well attended, and talks and reports had been posted on the website. The meetings in 2007/8 were supported by funding awarded by the Garfield Weston Foundation in February 2007.

Growing and Displaying South African Bulbs Technical Training Day
University of Bristol Botanic Garden, 17 April 2007

Plant Collections and Events in Gardens: striking a balance Conference
Glasgow Botanic Gardens, 1 to 3 May 2007

Management of Historic Landscapes in Royal Parks Tree Forum
Hyde Park, London, 16 May 2007

Mosses, Ferns and Lichens in Gardens Conference
Benmore Botanic Garden, 18-20 September 2007

Practical Field Records Plant Records Group
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 21 September 2007

Tree Planting Tree Forum
Sheffield Park Garden, Sussex (National Trust), 6 November 2007

Growing and Displaying South African Bulbs Technical Training Day
University of Bristol Botanic Garden, March 11 2008

Projects: Work had continued on the Target 8 Project, with 16 gardens growing, or planning to grow, more than 50 threatened native species. More gardens would be encouraged to take part in the coming year.

The website https://plantnetwork.org has continued to include reports, articles from the Newsletter soliciting help with projects and meeting powerpoints, as well as information on forthcoming meetings. The chairman would welcome members’ suggestions for information to include on the site. Gardens were asked to download their entries from the online version of the PlantNetwork Directory of Botanical Collections in Britain and Ireland and send updated versions to Matthew Jebb.

Judy Cheney had continued to compile and edit an excellent newsletter for members. Three issues of the PlantNetwork Newsletter had been published: in April, August and December 2007.

Membership: In the year 2007/08, there were 176 members (93 gardens and organisations, and 83 personal members); this included 14 new members (15 members had not renewed). In addition, PlantNetwork welcomed 16 Trainees on the Historic and Botanic Garden Bursary Scheme as members for the duration of their placements. Subscription rates had remained unchanged for the past 3 years, and Garden and individual membership rates were raised by 9-10% for the coming year. Rates for individuals at member institutions and for students remained unchanged (£15 and £10, respectively). Charity Commission: Public Benefit of a Charity: Our reserves policy continues to set aside sufficient finance to enable PlantNetwork to function for at least 12 months if funds became limiting. New legislation regarding Public Benefit of a Charity means that we must demonstrate, explicitly, that our aims are for the public benefit. Access to a charity must not be unfairly restricted to those on low incomes, and we endeavour to keep costs of meeting as low as possible. The website provides access to all the presentations at meetings, and many of the results of forum meetings. Use of public transport is encouraged at all meetings by providing an overview of the options to those booking to attend at meetings.

(4) Accounts for the year to 31 March 2008

The accounts for the year to 31 March 2008 had not yet been audited. Copies of the audited accounts would be available on request from the PlantNetwork office later in the year.

As in previous years, basic expenditure (excluding conferences) was approximately £30 000. Subscription income remains important at £16 000, and surplus income from conferences, forum groups and sales realised a further £9 000. Thus, at the end of the year, there was a net loss of ca. £5 500. In March 2007, we received a grant of £5 000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation, and this has proved hugely beneficial in supporting the costs of many of our meetings through the year. At the beginning of the year, in April 2007, we were able to carry forward £44 416 from the previous year. We now have an adequate operating reserve to ensure that the network can continue to function for more than a year, should funds become limiting. Subscription rates would be increased on 1 April 2008 (the first rise since April 2005), retaining rates for individual membership as low as possible.

Fundraising continues to be a priority to bridge the gap between subscription income and running costs. Both conferences during 2007 were successful, although the autumn conference, at Benmore in September, had both a lower attendance than previous conferences, and a number of speakers from without PlantNetwork for whom we paid some expenses and covered some costs for attendance. The Board has continued to keep charges of meetings as low as possible, and has operated a policy of achieving a breakeven point with 30 attendees at a conference. This has, to date, produced an adequate surplus to cover the administrative time and costs involved.

Critchleys, of Greyfriars Court, Paradise Square, Oxford, was appointed as auditor for a further year.

(5) Election of officers to the Board of Trustees

The Articles of Association of the Company require one-third of Board members to retire at each AGM; they may stand for re-election. Thomas Keay had resigned in February 2008. Wolfgang Bopp, Pamela Smith and Nicholas Wray retired from the Board. Louise Allen, Jessica Gould and Tim Upson were elected and Wolfgang Bopp and Pamela Smith were re-elected to the Board.

Matthew Jebb thanked Nicholas Wray for his many years service to the board. Nick had been a Trustee since 1999, and played an active role both in serving on the board, and in hosting meetings at Bristol University Botanic Garden. David Rae thanked Matthew Jebb and the Board of Trustees and Judy Cheney for all they had done during the year in running the network and organising an impressive programme of meetings.

The meeting closed at about 6.00pm.