Posted 3rd Mar 2015
The new National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS), launching this spring, will for the first time enable scientists to take an annual stocktake of the UK’s wild plants and their habitats – and you can help!
Plantlife are looking for volunteers to carry out surveys of wild flowers and their habitats that will provide robust evidence of which widespread plants are increasing or declining, as well as indicating the changing state of our most valued habitats, such as grassland, fenland and even road verges. Plants are nature’s building blocks and this new monitoring scheme will sit alongside existing schemes for the UK’s birds and butterflies to help us understand more about how the countryside is changing.
The search is now on to find 2,000 volunteers to take part in the NPMS who will play a vital role in gathering information. Together the volunteers will monitor wild plants in 28 important habitats, ranging from hedgerows and meadows to salt marsh and scree slopes.
Hayley New, from Plantlife, says: 'The NPMS is hugely enjoyable and over 400 volunteers have helped us set up the new scheme. It’s easy to do and everyone will receive free training and guidance plus support from the partnership for volunteers who have queries, as well as web support and illustrated guidance notes – so volunteers will have the perfect survey tool kit to get them started!'
How does the NPMS work?
- Volunteers will be able to choose from three options depending on their level of expertise: recording from a short or an extended list of target species in each habitat, or recording all species they find in their plots.
- Volunteers will be given a 1km square with a grid showing up to 25 locations. Surveyors will be asked to visit three of those locations and carry out surveys in square plots and then identify two linear features, such as hedgerows, rivers and road verges, and survey these locations too.
- The squares have been randomly chosen, but with a focus on squares containing habitats of interest.
Oliver Pescott, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, says: 'The results from this new scheme should allow us to quantify the smaller changes that are occurring within our most valuable habitats. In the past, volunteer-collected data have been able to demonstrate the results of large-scale habitat loss over the last century, now we would like to reveal even more detail about the changes within the remaining areas of these habitats in our landscape.'
For more information on the NPMS and how to take part please visit www.npms.org.uk
Images courtesy of Plantlife: Beth Newman, Beth Halski