OSME News – from the Chairman of Council, Geoff Welch

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Like any organisation, OSME needs to constantly evolve and adapt to changes, especially in relation to its membership, conservation and research activities in the region and the wider global situation. One of the privileges of being Chairman of Council is that it gives an opportunity to indulge in a little ‘crystal ball gazing’ regarding how OSME could and should develop in the coming years and I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my, and Council’s, thoughts with you.
Despite the many social, political, economic and environmental difficulties currently facing many of the countries in the OSME region, there is a steadily growing number of active and extremely dedicated birdwatchers and conservationists and OSME is committed to supporting their efforts in whatever way the Society is able. The most practical means of doing this are through providing financial support via the Conservation and Research Fund and facilitating access to information and contacts locally, regionally and internationally via the Supported Membership scheme, journal exchanges and the OSME website. Inevitably all of these require money to a greater or lesser extent and therefore OSME is reliant on the support of its individual and corporate members to make this possible. Therefore in addition to continuing your membership of OSME, Council would like to encourage as many members as possible to upgrade to Supporting Members which would enable us to provide subscriptions to nationals throughout the region who are otherwise unable to pay the annual subscription fee. I know firsthand that in many countries there is a new and developing generation of birdwatchers often based around university bird groups and whilst these students have almost boundless enthusiasm they have very limited resources for optical equipment, field guides, reference material or transport. A year’s subscription to Sandgrouse is a very effective means of encouraging a continued interest in birds and conservation and as skills and knowledge increase this is already leading to an increasing number of papers being submitted for publication.
Continuing the Sandgrouse theme, Council is researching the practicality of digitising back copies of Sandgrouse and the OSME Bulletin for eventual posting on the OSME web site to make this valuable archive available to all, especially as many of the earlier issues of Sandgrouse are no longer available in print. The challenge is to find a means of doing this cost-effectively but we hope to be able to make a start on this project within the coming year. Sandgrouse itself has undergone a redesign recently and now has much more colour throughout and is continuing to be at the forefront of bird club publications providing an excellent mix of scientific and popular articles presented in a modern, attractive format. Following the very popular Syrian Checklist (Sandgrouse Supplement 2), there is an increasing interest from organisations in the region for more of this type of publication and preliminary planning is underway for checklists for the United Arab Emirates and Central Asia.