Plants are essential to everyone's lives. Welcome to Plantlife.

Our history

Plantlife began in 1989, following a conference of leading conservation organisations, where the case was argued that not enough was being done to protect and conserve wild plants. Since then, Plantlife has grown from an office of two people to a staff of 40 with a head office in Salisbury, and dedicated national offices in Bangor, Wales and Stirling, Scotland.

2010

  • Plantlife celebrates 21 years of speaking up for and working to protect our wild plants and fungi.
  • Plantlife launches its first children’s wild flower survey – Bee Scene – as part of an ambitious five year Wild About Plants project to encourage people of all ages and all backgrounds to connect with nature through learning about wild plants.
  • Years of campaigning on invasive plants achieve success as the Wildlife and Countryside Act is updated to include over 50 species that it is now an offence to plant, or cause to grow in the wild. In Scotland, over 25 plant species were listed on Schedule 9 in 2005. Plantlife’s campaign for a ban on sale of invasive plants continues.
  • Ranscombe Farm Reserve in Kent is extended through the purchase a 57ha wildflower meadow and a new programme of conservation and access works is planned for the future. A new project to save wild flowers in Breckland is also launched. Both show the increasing importance and emphasis on landscape scale conservation projects, in particular IPAs.
  • The UK, the European Union and the global community fail to meet their target of stopping biodiversity loss; this failure of political will makes the work of Plantlife more vital than ever.

2009

  • Outcomes of a three-year medicinal plants conservation programme in East Africa and the Himalayas are published, showing how conserving wild medicinal plants in these regions could be the key to conserving entire threatened ecosystems.
  • Saving the Forgotten Kingdom, a new strategy for conserving the UK’s fungi is launched.
  • 2009 and 2010: The Ghost Orchid Declaration, Plantlife’s new ‘manifesto’ for wild plants, is launched at the House of Commons, the Scottish Parliament and in Cardiff, offering new and challenging solutions aimed at securing the future of wild plants in the UK.

2008

  • A Vascular Plant Red Data List for Wales is published by Plantlife, the first time such assessment has been carried out. This list adds to Red Data books previously compiled by Plantlife for JNCC for stoneworts (1992), lichens (1996) and mosses and liverworts (2004).

2007

  • Plantlife reports how existing nature conservation policies fail to conserve farmland flowers effectively: an example of work championing forgotten groups including arable plants, stoneworts, bryophytes and fungi.
  • Plantlife launches a list of 150 Important Plant Areas in the UK in a bid to boost conservation action and focus attention on these internationally important sites.
Ranscombe Farm Reserve - acquired in 2006.

Ranscombe Farm Reserve - acquired in 2006.

2006

  • Plantlife acquires Ranscombe Farm Reserve in Kent, now our flagship nature reserve in England. Long term conservation management begins.

2004

  • The results of Plantlife’s County Flowers campaign are launched, following voting by members of the public to find a wild flower emblem for every county in the UK. The bluebell was chosen as top wild flower overall.

2003

  • Plantlife is appointed to lead on Target 5 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation: protection of 50% of the most important areas for plant diversity assured. This gives new impetus to work today on Important Plant Areas.

2002

  • Plantlife Scotland’s office in Stirling is established and now has four staff members and an active membership.

2001

  • Delegates at the third Planta Europa conference in the Czech Republic forge a draft European Strategy for Plant Conservation; Plantlife and partners then use this to contribute to and inspire the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (under the Convention on Biological Diversity), probably Plantlife’s most important single contribution to plant conservation in all its 21 years.
  • Plantlife Wales (now Plantlife Cymru) is established in Bangor.

2000

  • The Countryside and Rights of Way Act rewards Plantlife’s long campaign to win better legal protection for plants in England and Wales; a Scottish Act follows in 2004.
  • The Common Plants Survey (renamed Wildflowers Count in 2010) is launched, the only annual UK-wide wild flower survey, encouraging experts and non-experts alike to join in with monitoring wild flowers near where they live.

1999

  • Years of campaigning by Plantlife to block development of an inappropriately sited visitor centre at Mullaghmore in the Burren, Ireland finally succeed; the half-finished building is demolished and the site restored.

1997

  • Plantlife’s reserves enter a new league with the purchase of Winskill Stones. Further major reserves follow later at Deep Dale, Munsary and Ranscombe Farm, bringing more than 4,500 acres of high quality wild plant habitat under Plantlife’s direct management and protection.

1995

  • Planta Europa is launched with a conference in Hyeres, France; its proposals include the identification of a network of Important Plant Areas (IPAs) across Europe, which over the next 15 years becomes one of the most powerful achievements of Plantlife’s international work, and this approach is now expanding across the globe.
  • Plantlife is a key partner in the fight against a superquarry on the Isle of Harris, giving evidence to a public inquiry; after tortuous delays, the plan is eventually withdrawn in 2004, and the proposed site at Roineabhal and its important bryophyte population remain pristine.

1994

  • Plantlife and five other environmental bodies produce Biodiversity Challenge demanding action from the government in response to the 1992 Rio Earth Summit; the government responds by producing its Biodiversity Action Plan. Plantlife staff help draft many of the plant Species Action Plans, drivers of conservation action across the UK.
  • Plantlife launches our own Plant Link network of organisations with a focus on plant conservation. Plantlife is a partner in the ‘Link’ network of voluntary conservation bodies, allowing better lobbying access to politicians and highlighting plants in wider conservation initiatives.

1992

  • Back from the Brink becomes the new name for Plantlife’s programme to rescue rare plants; this grows to bring a powerful focus to the conservation of over 100 other species of plants and fungi.
David Bellamy at number 10 Downing Street, 1989.

David Bellamy at number 10 Downing Street, 1989.

  • Plantlife launches results of a scientifically impartial Commission of Inquiry into Peat and Peatlands in the House of Lords; the report – and the summary version, Out of the Mire, published jointly with the RSPB – are hugely influential in stopping peat extraction from lowland raised bogs.

1989

  • David Bellamy, Plantlife’s first president, and founder Jane Smart deliver a manifesto for plant conservation to number 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
  • Plantlife is founded.