Are our plants changing?

How would you like to take part in a UK-wide project to record how our plant species are changing over time? The National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) is looking for volunteers to adopt a one km square. If you are really keen you could even adopt two or three…

Loch Lomond fen workshop 2015. © Malcolm Hamilton

Loch Lomond fen workshop 2015. © Malcolm Hamilton

Plantlife Scotland is working hard to encourage volunteers to adopt available squares. The survey squares have been chosen to represent different habitats, e.g. pine woodland or grassland. In addition to habitat type, the squares are selected to ensure that the whole of the UK and Northern Ireland have an even density. Not surprisingly some of the squares in Scotland are a fair distance off the beaten track. That, and the fact that Scotland has a lower population density than the rest of the UK means that uptake here has been a bit patchy, especially in the north-west highlands and parts of the borders. Lagging behind the rest of the UK is not really where we want to be.


Scots pine woodland. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

To take part you don’t need to be a plant guru. You can help out by providing different levels of information, whichever you feel happiest about. The “wild flower” category only requires a basic knowledge of plant identification and help is at hand, there is a full-colour plant guide sent out to surveyors who sign up. “Indicator” level is where you can identify more key species (again with the plant guide to help), and “inventory” is where you are happy to put a name to every plant, including grasses!


Grassland. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

To find out if there is an available square near you, the NPMS website has an interactive map showing the available squares.

The idea is that surveyed squares will then be repeated in future years, potentially by different surveyors if the original surveyor is unable to continue to monitor the square. Over time the monitoring should provide a picture of change, possibly in relation to climate change or changes in how we look after habitats.

If you would like to take part you can sign up for the scheme at the NPMS website or contact Jill Williams at Plantlife Scotland on 01786 479382.

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