Widespread declining species

Red Hemp Nettle

This is a collaborative project between Natural England, the Botanical Society of the British Isles and Ireland (BSBI) and Plantlife which has been designed to improve the evidence-base for a selection of threatened widespread declining vascular plants.

The aim of the project is to understand aggregations of species by mapping all known records (from 1900 to 2014) against protected site and landscape boundaries, as well as other organisation's sites where conservation is a key management objective.

Comprehensive datasets for 26 widespread declining species (provided by the BSBI) were mapped against GIS protected area/ reserve boundaries (provided by Natural England, the National Trust and the RSPB). A series of mapping analyses and reports were prepared by Plantlife for Natural England between 2012 and 2015, and findings are presented below. Please see Table 1 for species analysed to date.

How to use this information

An important aspect of the project is to make species data and management guidance available to those responsible for the conservation of land that supports these important plants. Land managers or conservation officers working on SSSIs, NNRs, LNRs, National Parks and AONBs as well as RSPB and NT reserves and landholdings can use the summary documents and spreadsheets below to assess whether records (both current and historical) have been recorded on their sites. Managers can also use the reports that have been written for 15 of these species to view detailed maps showing species records against SSSI, NNR and LNR boundaries (please see links below for WDS reports available).


A large proportion of the species included in this analysis fall within a protected network or landscape conservation scheme. Species records within SSSIs, NNRs, LNRs, NPs, AONBs as well as RSPB reserves and National Trust landholdings have been divided into government regions and are summarised in the documents below:

Raw data to support these findings can be found in the linked spreadsheet which includes records from two mapped date classes (2000-2014, and 1987-1999). Please click through the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet to access the relevant area information:

Species loss

A comparison of species occurence from two date classes ('current records' 2000-2014, and 'recent records' 1987-1999) also allows an overview of species lost from key sites since the 'recent' recording period.

204 SSSIs, 21 NNRs and 36 LNRs across England have lost at least one of the WD species analysed with some sites losing up to 5 different species. 8 National Parks have also lost species with both the Peak District and the New Forest losing 10 species each since the 'recent' recording period. 21 AONBs have also lost species.

For more information on sites that have lost species please use linked spreadsheets below:

Management advice

Plantlife and the BSBI have produced several information and guidance documents (as well as online web pages) which give an overview of the widespread decliner species and recommend ways to manage land to best conserve and support these important plant populations. Please see Table 2 for further details on resources available. The table will be updated as new documents become available.

For a full copy of the report please contact Beth Halski at beth.halski@plantlife.org.uk.