John Glen, MP for Salisbury and South Wiltshire, to champion threatened arable wildflower
Plantlife, the UK's leading wild plant conservation charity, is delighted to announce that John Glen will act as Species Champion for pheasant's eye (Adonis annua), a once-common wildflower that is now restricted to field margins and disturbed sites such as Salisbury Plain and Porton Down military areas.
Pheasant's eye has been known in Britain since the Iron Age and was once so common that it was gathered for sale as 'Red Morocco' in Covent Garden, London. However it has declined dramatically in the 20th century due to the intensification of agriculture and increased use of herbicides and fertilisers. It is now Endangered in the UK and listed under section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
The Species Champions Project partners Members of Parliament from England with wildlife organisations to bring political support to the protection and promotion of threatened wildlife.
John Glen said: "The striking sight of a scarlet pheasant's-eye is one of the undoubted highlights of a Wiltshire Summer walk. I am proud to champion such a small, delicate wonder so loved by many of my constituents and look forward to working with Plantlife to save and protect it for future generations.
"The steady decline of pheasant's eye is, sadly, part of a wider problem of widespread species decline in the UK. Only if we take action to arrest our alarming species and habitat decline will our children and grandchildren be able to enjoy wildflowers and nature like we were able to as children. That is why, alongside other Species Champion MPs, I am proud to stand up for pheasant's eye and all the other threatened species that so enrich our natural environment."
Marian Spain, Plantlife CEO, commented:
"I’m delighted that John is championing one of Wiltshire's best-loved wildflowers. It is vital that we restore and protect farmland and grassland habitats, home to pheasant's eye and so many other wonderful flowering plants.
"Arable plants are the fastest declining suite of plants in the UK and that's why Plantlife is spearheading Colour in the Margins, an exciting Back from the Brink project focussed on conserving 13 arable species including ten plants.
"As post-Brexit agricultural policy develops, Plantlife and other conservation organisations have the chance of a lifetime to support farmers committed to wildlife-friendly farming. Through ever closer co-operation, we can deliver a bright future for farming that is truly sustainable – environmentally, economically and socially.”
John Glen is Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, having previously been the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. His large rural constituency includes parts of the West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the northern tip of the New Forest National Park, and the southern part of Salisbury plain, including Stonehenge.
Under the Species Champion project, over 40 iconic and threatened English species have been ‘adopted’ by Members of Parliament. The initiative is run by a coalition of seven nature NGOs - Plantlife, RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, and Bat Conservation Trust.