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This beautiful mountain plant, that once clung to the cliff edges in Eryri (Snowdonia) has successfully returned to the wild in Wales after becoming extinct in 1962. 

The trial reintroduction of Rosy Saxifrage Saxifraga rosacea, led by us, marks a special moment for nature recovery. The plants, which have been maintained in cultivation, have direct lineage to the 1962 specimens. 

It is now flowering at a location close to where it was last recorded in the wild – and there are plans in place to boost its numbers now the first trial has taken place.  

Why did it become extinct? 

The species was first recorded in Wales in 1796 by J.W.Griffith (Clark, 1900) and there are up to five records from the 19th century. In the 20th century, there are three records, all in Eryri. 

But, it is thought that Rosy Saxifrage slipped into extinction in Wales, primarily as a result of plant enthusiasts over collecting the species, particularly in the Victorian era. Atmospheric pollution is also considered to have played a role. Rosy Saxifrage is not a great competitor with stronger growing plants, so it was impacted by the nutrient enrichment of its favoured mountain habitat. 

The successful reintroduction has been led by our botanist Robbie Blackhall-Miles, Project Officer for the Tlysau Mynydd Eryri (Mountain Jewels of Eryri) conservation partnership project that aims to secure the futures of some of our rarest alpine plants and invertebrates in Wales. 

The outplanting took place on land cared for by the National Trust and in future months botanists will conduct surveys to establish places where it will be best to reintroduce the species fully to the wild.  

Read more about Rosy Saxifrage here. 

 

Photographs by: Llyr Hughes

Fen Orchid Programme

After a decade of research and partnership work on Fen Orchids we now believe that the orchid could finally be removed from the Red Lists for both England and Great Britain.

How the programme started

This programme began when Plantlife was invited, in 2007, to join the Fen Orchid partnership in England, led then by Norfolk Wildlife Trust under the Species Recovery Programme (funded by Natural England, then English Nature).

The Trust were Lead Partners for fen orchid in England under the English Biodiversity Action Planning structures then in force.

In 2008, the Trust asked if Plantlife could take over as lead partner. At that point, fen orchid had only been known in 3 sites in England since 1975 and the population had never been known to reach 1000 plants.

Main Work Threads

We accepted that invitation and set about reviewing and revising the conservation programme, following five main threads:

  • Monitoring existing populations
  • Searching for lost and new populations
  • Ecological study
  • Experimental management
  • Reintroduction

Working in Partnership

As with with most of Plantlife’s work  and conservation programmes, the fen orchid programme always has been a partnership effort, with different organisations fulfilling different roles.

We acknowledge the excellent habitat management work undertaken by

  • Norfolk Wildlife Trust
  • RSPB
  • The Suffolk Wildlife Trust at former sites

The programme would not function without the financial, technical and moral support provided by organisations like

  • Broads Authority
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Natural England

We also appreciate the technical expertise and resources contribution to the reintroduction programme provided by:

  • The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Cambridge University Botanic Garden

The Work

Since 2008, Plantlife’s role has been, under the English Species Recovery Programme, to:

  • Undertaken annual counts of fen orchids at a number of sites
  • Act as a data hub for counts, receiving information from other recorders
  • Researched the ecology of fen orchid, here and abroad
  • Search former sites for populations thought to have vanished, and encourage others to do the same
  • Provide management advice for site managers
  • Provide monitoring guidance, including estimation protocols for site managers
  • Assess former East Anglian sites for potential for reintroduction
  • Undertake three reintroductions, one of which survives seven years on
  • Publish what we have learnt of fen orchid ecology, and …
  • Lead the partnership

What have we achieved

The record of the partnership speaks for itself: since 2009, the population of fen orchids in England has climbed year on year.

From fewer than 1000 plants at three sites to an estimated 17,000 plants (in 2023) at seven sites.

The aim of the conservation programme has always been to reduce the Threat Status (as assessed by the English Vascular Plant Red List group) of fen orchid, and, if possible, to reduce the Threat level to Least Concern.

This is a challenging ambition but a recent re-assessment has shown that we are very close to our goal.

This is essentially due to the increase in the number of known English sites combined with consistent population expansion over the last 15 years.

This re-assessment applies also at Great Britain  level, although recovery in Wales has been less rapid.  Work there by Bridgend Council and Natural Resources Wales has produced very favourable results and Plantlife are proud that we contributed to a partnership that found funding for large scale dune restoration work there.

On the high peaks of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) and on the Glyderau there grows a forest that is little more than a foot high. A forest of Juniper Juniperus communis subsp. nana nestled among the rocks in the crags and crevices. They are everywhere, if you look in the right places, creeping through the thin turf and sprawling over rocks.

 

Where can you find Wales’ Juniper forests?

If you scramble over the jagged ridges of Crib Goch and Crib Y Ddisgl you will find them. On Esgair Felen they tumble down the cliffs and on the upper reaches of the Watkin Path you will be walking through the middle of this ‘coedwig fach’ (little forest). Y Lliwedd, one of the satellite peaks of Yr Wyddfa, holds the largest of these forests and here you can’t fail to notice them, although you may not realise they are trees.

Their twisted and gnarled trunks keep close to the ground, bonsaied by the cold and the wind in the exposed locations in which they grow. These small trees are glacial relics from a time between the ice ages, like many of our Arctic – Alpine species.

They are clinging on literally for dear life in the least accessible locations in our mountains where they find refuge from the goats and the sheep and the deep time history of clearance of our mountain woodlands.

These Juniper plants, alongside Dwarf Willown Salix repens, are the fragmented upper reaches of a special type of woodland that has almost disappeared from the mountains of Eryri.

A woodland of low growing scrubby willows, junipers and other ‘Krummholz’ trees and shrubs. ‘Krummholz’ is a German word that is used to describe dwarfed gnarled trees that push high into the mountains to eke out their existence in a tangled and contorted state.

 

Protecting the foot high forests

This scrubby, fairy woodland would have once spread from about 450 metres in altitude, the natural treeline, almost to the summits of Eryri. Elsewhere in Britain it is found in the Scottish Highlands and there are fragments of it in the Lake District. It still just about exists here in Wales on the edges and ledges where people and grazers have never ventured.

The trees of Eryri are under recorded, with limited records of trees in the high mountains, so there is still so much more to understand about these sky-high forests.

Recently, whilst out climbing, I discovered a tree species I was not expecting on a ledge, a Bird Cherry Prunus padus. The discovery of this cherry links our mountain woodlands even more directly to those of Scotland where Bird Cherry is a common feature.

Read more about the work Natur am Byth! is doing through the Tlysau Mynydd Eryri project to better understand these tiny but fascinating forests, alongside Bangor University.

The importance of the coedwig fach in Cymru

Restoration of this mosaic of alpine woodland comes with great benefits. This habitat is ecologically vital, for invertebrates’ montane trees and shrubs are particularly important and many of these woody species support high diversity of endemic ectomycorrhizal fungi. Additionally, mountain woodland habitat and willow scrub can provide protection against extreme weather for rare tall herb and alpine plant communities which would otherwise be exposed and struggle to persist in alpine environments.

The increasing diversity enabled by these wooded upland communities has positive impacts for small mammals and birds such as Ring Ouzel. Succession in these wooded habitats builds soil organic matter through their leaf litter. These woodlands reduce erosion by building these soils and halt water runoff which reduces the impacts of flooding.

So, if you are planning a trip up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) any time soon, keep an eye open for the forest you are walking through and take a moment to stop and think about what the mountains may have looked like before their woodlands almost disappeared, the other species that were lost with them and the way they could look again.

Our work in Wales

Rosy Saxifrage reintroduced into Wales after 62 years extinct 
person holding a plant with white flowers

Rosy Saxifrage reintroduced into Wales after 62 years extinct 

The beautiful mountain plant, Rosy Saxifrage, has returned to the wild in Wales after becoming extinct in 1962.  

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow
Wildflower meadow landscape with a variety of species near Cardiff, Wales

How to Grow a Wildflower Meadow

Whether it’s your back garden, local park, community field or lawn, wildflower meadows are amazing spaces with so much to offer.

The nodding yellow heads of spring-flowering daffodils are now our most recognisable symbol of St David’s Day; indeed, they’re a symbol of Wales itself. However, daffodils are relative newcomers to this scene, dating only to the 19th century as an emblem for the country. The Leek, however, has been a symbol of Wales for so long that its stories date back to St David himself, who is thought to have died in the year 589.

The History of the Wild Leek in Wales

Legend describes how Welsh soldiers were ordered to identify themselves by wearing a Leek on their helmet, as they fought the Saxons in the north of England and the Midlands, under the command of King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd.

As with all such oral histories so long and so widely told, there are many different variations of this legend; however, the long presence of the Leek across many centuries of Welsh history is undeniable.

Most of us now think of Leeks as the large, cultivated vegetable we see in supermarkets – not at all suitable for attaching to a helmet in battle! However their genus, Allium, also contains a number of species that are either native, or ancient introductions to Britain. These have a far lengthier heritage than the domesticated vegetable, and would have been growing in north Wales at the time of both King Cadawladr and St David.

One of these is Allium ampeloprasum var. ampleoprasum, a variety of the Wild Leek that still grows today in Anglesey. It is a large plant, growing up to 2m high, with a dense spherical flowerhead of pink-purple flowers. This would certainly have made a distinctive and plausible addition a soldier’s helmet. Could this be the real Leek of Welsh legend?

 

Has Wild Leek always been found in Wales?

Wild Leek isn’t actually native to Britain – but it’s one of the archaeophytes, meaning that it was introduced by humans long ago – perhaps by traders, hundreds of years before the time of St David. It’s likely that it would have been grown and valued by the people of north Wales for its nutritional and medical properties.

Wild Leek on Angelsey

Evidence for this can be found in The Red Book of Hergest (c. 1375-1425). This is one of the most important books ever written in Welsh, and it is a compilation of mythology, poetry, and chronicles of the time. It includes contemporary medical texts, which name Leeks in many recipes for treatments and cures.

The regular appearance of Leeks in other, later texts also suggests that the plants were quite readily available to the people of Wales. They must have been much more common than they are today.

The Future of the Wild Leek

Sadly, Wild Leek is now considered at risk of extinction in Wales, with small populations remaining only on Anglesey, and on Steep Holm and Flat Holm islands. However, a healthy population is held in cultivation by Plantlife Cymru’s Robbie Blackhall-Miles.

This will help to secure the long-term safety of this now rare species in Wales. Given its fascinating and long association with the communities of Wales, possibly even St David himself – this is surely to be celebrated- especially on St David’s Day.

More ways to learn about wild plants and fungi

No Mow May: Can your garden be a carbon store?
Garden meadow by pond (c) Shuttleworth

No Mow May: Can your garden be a carbon store?

It’s not just trees that capture and store carbon – our meadows and grasslands can play an important role too.

The Wildlife in our Meadows
Duke of Burgundy butterfly on cowslip.

The Wildlife in our Meadows

From bumblebees to birds and moths to mammals – meadows are micro-cities of wildlife. Here's what to spot in your wildflower meadow.

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Finding Hazel Gloves Fungus: Why Recording Matters

Hazel Gloves Fungus is a priority species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, learn more about this rainforest fungi this Reverse the Red month.

  • Go to:

About Local Nature Recovery Strategies

Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRSs) are a crucial element of the UK government’s commitments to turn the tide on species loss in England. If they are properly informed and implemented, they could deliver huge gains for biodiversity and serve to reconnect communities with nature recovery. 

The intention is that each of the 48 LNRS regions (broadly following county lines) will produce a locally owned and informed action plan to;
a) spotlight and map high priority areas for biodiversity where nature can be conserved, restored, and connected and
b) establish a sense of local ownership and responsibility for wildlife.

As these strategies are going to target a lot of future conservation work in England it’s absolutely vital that we get them right, and make sure they deliver the wide range of environmental benefits that we urgently need.  

Plantlife are using this opportunity to advocate the indispensable role that wild plants and fungi play in ecosystem function, and to help responsible authorities design and deliver LNRSs with species protection at their hearts. 

Our recommendations

1. Including specialist data on habitats and species to produce a really well-informed knowledge base of local biodiversity.

Having this knowledge base early on will produce the most reliable map of opportunities for biodiversity protection and enhancement going forwards.

2. Implementing measures to boost species diversity and prevent the further loss of species.

Increasing the structural diversity of a habitat will create more niches for different species to occupy, and it’s important that bespoke plans for priority species present are always included within habitat management. This will prevent extinctions, while improving the condition of the overall habitat. 

3. Recognising our grasslands for the powerful nature-based solutions that they are.

Species-rich grasslands are some of our most reliable habitats for carbon storage and wildlife support, but they are being lost at an alarming rate.

Designing LNRSs which protect and restore species rich grasslands will support whole communities of wildlife and create stable, long-term sub-soil carbon stores.

4. Promoting a diversity of management approaches across our treescape to reflect the unique requirements of each woodland type.

Woods and trees need to be managed to sustain the breadth of species they can support, this means diversifying our woods in terms of tree species and age, creating open spaces and transitional habitats, and preserving ancient trees for lichen and bryophyte diversity.
 

5. Always working to the principle of ‘Right Tree, Right Place, Right Management’ when designing tree planting schemes.

Increasing tree cover cannot come at the cost of our existing priority wildlife and carbon stores.
 

6. Mitigating the damaging impacts of air pollution, through nature-based solutions and emission reduction measures.

Air pollution is a serious issue nationally, and it threatens wildlife as well as human health. LNRS provide an opportunity to tackle this threat both by mapping sources of emissions and areas of high deposition and implementing measures to mitigate the impacts of pollution.

7. Improving the condition and extent of green infrastructure networks.

Well-designed and protected urban green space such as road verges and amenity grasslands connect urban habitats with the wider countryside.

This reverses habitat fragmentation, locks away carbon, supports biodiversity, reduces pollution, tackles heat extremes, minimises flooding and improves health and wellbeing.

8. Taking steps to improve local ecosystem health and climate resilience.

Many of the  threats our species and habitats are currently facing are projected to worsen with rising global temperatures, but by leveraging the power of local each LNRSs can make a difference at a small scale which, scaled up across England, can improve our overall resilience. 

What you can do

Our work

A big win for grassland, but farmers need more
Cows in a field of grass by a gate in Greena Moor

A big win for grassland, but farmers need more

After a big government announcement, our experts have been delving into the details on the latest funding changes for farmers.

Sustainable farming needs government support, report reveals
Wildflowers growing in a meadow with cattle behind

Sustainable farming needs government support, report reveals

As governments continue to undervalue grasslands, Plantlife is calling on policymakers to help farmers make sustainable choices. 

A Temperate Rainforest Strategy for England:
branches and tree covered with lichens

A Temperate Rainforest Strategy for England:

A new English government strategy for temperate rainforest has been released, but restoring the rainforest in England requires a more detailed approach that recognises and addresses the threats. To put the rainforest on the path to recovery, concrete action is needed.

The evidence is clear. Nitrogen has built up in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels and intensive farming. Transport, power stations, industry, farm fertilisers and livestock are all major sources of nitrogen oxides and ammonia emissions.

Deposited directly from the air and in rain, this nitrogen is a form of pollution, creating acidic conditions and causing direct damage to our wild plants, lichens and fungi.

Purple Harebell flowers in a grass field

Over two thirds of our wild flowers, plants like Harebell Campanula rotundifolia and Betony Betonica officinalis require low or medium levels of nitrogen. Only robust species, such as Nettle Urtica dioica, Cleavers Galium aparine and Hemlock Conium maculatum thrive in soils with high nitrogen levels.

Species-rich grasslands, woodlands, heathlands and peat bogs are all under threat from air pollution. This even reaches remote mountain tops and the rainforest of Scotland’s west coast as they have higher levels of nitrogen-rich rainfall.

Alarmingly, 68% of sensitive habitat area in the UK has excessive levels of nitrogen – in England and Wales alone, this figure rises to more than 93% (Trends Report 2022, published on the UK-AIR website).

Reducing air pollution will have huge benefits for biodiversity as well as public health and our climate. Ammonia emissions from farming need particular attention as they have fallen so little in recent decades compared to other air pollutants.

Armed with powerful evidence and practical solutions, Plantlife is ‘talking about nitrogen’ with governments and partners across the UK to drive forward the action that is so urgently needed.

 

What is Plantlife calling for?

Yellow plant growing on twigs
  • Legally-binding government targets for reducing ammonia & nitrogen oxide emissions with plans of action for meeting these.
  • A joined-up approach to tackling nitrogen pollution in all its forms (air, water & soils) and to benefit public health, biodiversity and climate action.
  • Nitrogen levels to be taken into account in monitoring and management of protected wildlife sites – particularly in Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • Statutory action plans in severely-affected areas to reduce local emissions and restore damaged habitats.
  • Effective regulation, incentives, advice and support to enable farmers to reduce ammonia emissions.
  • Greater public awareness of the impacts of air pollution on plants and ecosystems, putting pressure on governments and others to take urgent action.

What can you do?

  • Join Plantlife to support our nitrogen campaign and other vital work to save wild plants.
  • Write to your MP and Environment Minister raising your concerns about this issue and making reference to Plantlife’s reports.
  • Share Plantlife’s reports with local farmers, conservation groups and other environmental organisations that you belong to, raising awareness of the issue.
  • Help monitor the impact of nitrogen on your local wildlife and improve our knowledge through citizen science, for example by joining the National Plant Monitoring Scheme.

Reports and Supporting Information

We Need to Talk About Nitrogen UK Report

This report summarises current evidence and raises awareness of where nitrogen is coming from, the impacts on habitats, plants and fungi, and how it is recorded.

We Need to Talk About Nitrogen Wales Report

A call to protect Wales’ internationally important wild flora and fungi from air pollution. This report focuses on the less well-known issue of ammonia pollution arising from intensive farming.

Cleaner Air for Scotland’s Wildlife Report

This report presents the available evidence on atmospheric nitrogen deposition and its impacts on Scotland’s plants and fungi and the wildlife that depend on them.

Our Work

A big win for grassland, but farmers need more
Cows in a field of grass by a gate in Greena Moor

A big win for grassland, but farmers need more

After a big government announcement, our experts have been delving into the details on the latest funding changes for farmers.

Government Action for Temperate Rainforests 

Government Action for Temperate Rainforests 

Discover how Plantlife is working with governments to protect and restore temperate rainforest along the Atlantic coast of Britain.

Scotland’s Strategic Framework for Biodiversity Consultation

Scotland's Strategic Framework for Biodiversity Consultation

Learn how you can make an impact on Scotland's new Natural Environment Bill, putting wild plants at the heart of plans for nature recovery. 

Pasqueflower, which is threatened and declining, has been lost from many of the places where it used to grow. This rare wildflower, which is considered ‘vulnerable’ in Britain, can now only be found at 19 sites across England – after it was lost from 108 sites.  

Similarly, Juniper – which has been lost from nearly 50% of its historic range – is facing extinction from southern Britain. Over the past 60 years, this iconic shrub has struggled to regenerate and whole colonies are dying out. If this trend continues, more than 100 special invertebrates and fungi that depend upon it will disappear too.  

What is the Species Recovery Project?

Funded by Natural England’s Species Recovery Capital Grant Scheme, we will be running a variety of species recovery projects – including for Pasqueflower and Juniper. 

We have received a share of a £14.5m award to recover some of England’s most endangered species.  

Both Pasqueflower and Juniper urgently need the help this project will provide.  

Juniper berries.

Why are we jittery about Juniper?

Plantlife has been working to reinstate lost Juniper landscapes over recent years. Since 2009, we have been trialling techniques to reinstate the shrub and 10 out of 14 sites now boast healthy populations of young bushes.   

Without vital work such as this, Juniper is likely to become extinct in lowland England within the next 50 years – which in turn could impact other species such as Goldcrest, Fieldfare and Song Thrush and Chalkhill blue and Silver-spotted skipper butterflies. 

The project, funded by Natural England, will help Plantlife to save lowland Juniper at Lime Kiln Bank at Stockton Down in Wiltshire.  

The process will involve habitat enhancement and we will collect, treat and sow locally sourced Juniper seeds. A provision of fencing and water supply infrastructure will also be implemented to facilitate the long-term management of the five-hectare site, which will gradually be restored back to chalk grassland with scattered Juniper.   

Pasqueflower

Why are we panicking about Pasqueflower?

Pasqueflower becomes more threatened every year and without intervention it may be lost in southern England within decades.  

The remaining populations face serious threats from a lack of grazing and scrub encroachment, with more than 99% of Pasqueflowers now restricted to just a few chalk and limestone grasslands and only at a handful of nature reserves. 

The project will restore Pasqueflower populations at 10 sites across the Chilterns, Cotswolds, Berkshire Downs and Yorkshire using techniques which have been trialled, tested and proven successful. 

Restoring these wildflower’s habitats and creating new ones will also result in many other species being saved. 

It will increase the ecological value of the land and be delivered by a team of specialist staff and landowners. 

We are also working to protect temperate rainforests in another branch of the Species recovery Project.

Exhibition: Sand Dunes at the Ucheldre

Join us at The Ucheldre to discover sand dunes through a new exhibition.

A sign on the dunes at night

In 2023 the Dynamic Dunescapes Project, the Ucheldre and Wild Elements CIC joined forces. The goal? To help Anglesey visitors and residents discover the sand dunes of Rhosneigr, through art. Working together, a programme of activity days has taken place throughout the year, and two films have been produced.

Visit the exhibition to see the works created as well as other arts projects that have taken place as part of the Dynamic Dunescapes project in North Wales.

Opening times:

Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00

Sunday 14:00 – 17:00

Additional event information

All are welcome and you can drop into the exhibit anytime during opening hours, but why not pair your visit with one (or more!) of the following:

  • 16/09 Dune-inspired Children’s art club sessions (book via Ucheldre website ‘classes’ page – £2 fee)
  • 30/09 Drop in and join Wild Elements between 11:00 – 14:00 for activities and crafts to reveal the magic of the dunes (free)
  • Check the Ucheldre centre social media and website for other activities taking place during the time the exhibit is open

For more information about the exhibit please visit https://ucheldre.org/ or contact the Ucheldre

More events

Restore Nature Now march

Restore Nature Now march

Sat, 22 Jun 2024
12:00 – 18:00
UK | free

Help us give nature a voice and join us at the biggest ever march for nature and climate. 

National Meadows Day
Wildflower meadow landscape with a variety of species near Cardiff, Wales

National Meadows Day

Sat, 6 Jul 2024
08:00 – 20:00
UK | free

Take part in Plantlife’s National Meadows Day on Saturday 6 July 2024 by visiting your nearby meadows at their midsummer best.

Past events

A Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

SBI-4 – Nairobi, Kenya

A Global Strategy for Plant Conservation

Wed, 22 May 2024
18:15
Nairobi, Kenya

Join us to discuss the new Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, at an event on behalf of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation.

The Fen Orchid Liparis loeselii, is one of the most endangered wildflowers in Europe, but successful conservation efforts have given hope for its survival. The orchid is only found in two areas of the UK:

  • Sand dunes in South Wales
  • Fens of the Norfolk Broads.

We believe that the orchid could finally be removed from the Red Lists for both England  and Great Britain.

 

Conservation Efforts in England

After a decade of research and partnership work, the orchid has been re-discovered at former sites in the Broads, and the total population has estimated to have risen to over 15,000 plants through proper management.

The orchid has also been reintroduced to its former sites in Suffolk, and the signs are encouraging that it will become established in some of its old homes.

 

Conservation Efforts in Wales

In South Wales, the conservation effort to restore the fragile dune habitat at Kenfig and to rediscover the plant at former dune locations.

At Kenfig numbers had dropped from a conservative 21,000 at the end of the 1980s to just 400 when conservation work began.

After almost 10 years of work, over 4000 Fen Orchids have been counted, more than double the highest number seen in the last two decades.

The orchids once grew at eight dune sites along the south Wales coast, but a lack of active management led to their disappearance. The success at Kenfig gives hope for other dune sites like Whiteford and Pembrey, the former of which the plant has recently been re-found after searching.

Related Posts

How Fungi Find Love on the Wood Wide Web

How Fungi Find Love on the Wood Wide Web

Join Senior Ecologist Sarah Shuttleworth for a deadwood date, as she shares what gets fungi swiping right on the wood wide web.

Rare Fungus spotted at Kenfig National Nature Reserve
Brown topped fungus with yellow gills in a green grassy area.

Rare Fungus spotted at Kenfig National Nature Reserve

Chris Jones, the Warden of Kenfig National Nature Reserve, recently found the very rare fungus, during a routine survey.

Wild Plants and Fungi are at the Heart of Climate Crisis
Red plants with mountains behind.

Wild Plants and Fungi are at the Heart of Climate Crisis

Plantlife and WWF study on grassland demonstrate how wild plants and fungi are at the heart of climate crisis. Calling world governments to recognise sites for wild plants and fungi

Wild Cotoneaster

This is our only native species of Cotoneaster in Wales, Cotoneaster cambricus, and in the 1970s it was down to as few as only 6 plants in the wild, making it international critically endangered!

It’s only found in the Great Orme IPA near Llandudno, where our vascular plants officer, Robbie, works alongside the National Trust, Conwy County Borough Council, Natural Resources Wales, PONT, and the tenant farmer, Dan Jones, to graze the land in a way that benefits the species.

How we’re helping Wild Cotoneaster

This, paired with efforts to plant out young plants have been a resounding success, and we’ve gone from 6 to well over 70 plants. We are now working with research students, Dan and Treboth botanic garden to understand the impacts that changes to grazing practices have on this species, so that we can understand how best to manage for it in the future.

What we’re finding is that managing to support this species is having knock-on positive effects on other species on the Great Orme, which demonstrates how targeted species recovery work can have a cascading positive benefit beyond that species, out into the wider ecosystem.

Snowdon Hawkweed

Snowdon Hawkweed

This small, sunny Welsh plant, a member of the dandelion family, is internationally critically endangered. It makes its home on the most inaccessible mountain slopes of Eryri (Snowdonia), where it is safe from disruption.

However, due to the changing climate, even these sanctuaries are becoming inhospitable, it is both literally and figuratively out on the very edge.

Its preference for inaccessible places, makes it problematic (to say the least) to monitor. However, conservation and extreme sports aligned when Robbie, Alex Turner and Mike Raine went out on ropes to survey for this mountain treasure. Their efforts have revealed that the plant’s population has increased from 2 individuals, to 4!

While that is still terrifyingly few, it represents a doubling of the global population of this species, and gives us hope that with support, these populations can recover.

How we’re helping Snowdon Hawkweed

We are delighted to have received funding for Natur am Byth!, Wales’ flagship species recovery project which we are part of, along with nine other environmental charities. Robbie will be leading on the Tlysau Mynydd Eryri (Mountain Jewels of Snowdonia) to provide an invaluable lifeline to species like Snowdon Hawkweed.

Once the project begins in September we’re going to be working with the National Trust to manage the grazing of sheep and goats on the mountain, which will hopefully create more undisturbed habitat for this species to colonize.

Rosy Saxifrage - Robbie Blackhall-Miles

Rosy Saxifrage

This mountain jewel is part of a suite of species that was once widespread all across the UK and Europe, the Arctic-Alpines.

Following the last Ice Age it would have been found over a large extent of Britain, but colonisation of species from the south as temperatures have risen has saw it retreat to all but our highest mountain tops, where the annual temperatures are sufficiently cool.

How we’re helping Rosy Saxifrage

This species is classed as threatened on the UK level red list, even though globally it’s been assessed as Least Concern (it can be found across the alpine landscapes of Europe). Each species is really important part of our natural heritage and to lose a species native to a country represents a significant loss, not only culturally, but ecologically too.

Rosy saxifrage is one such species that we’ve lost, it is now extinct in the wild in Wales. But efforts are underway to reintroduce it to a trial site later this year. Fantastically, the plants that will be used are of Welsh provenance, saved from a cutting taken in the 1960s, meaning that our national genetic identity for this species will be preserved and allowed to repopulate our landscape one more.

Why do we even bother?

Wildflowers in pink, purple and yellow among grass in Cae Blaen-dyffryn.

Our species are the fundamental parts of biodiversity – the more species there are in a habitat, the more diverse that habitat is. It is this diversity that allows ecosystems to function healthily and be more resilient.

This means, when we lose species to extinction, it undermines our ecosystem’s ability to adapt and respond to climate change and other existential threats. This is the primary reason why recovering species is one of our priorities at Plantlife. With partners, we plan to recover 100 plant species, and move them out of high extinction risk categories, into lower risk categories.

We are proud supporters of the global Reverse the Red campaign – a movement dedicated to spotlighting all of the work that’s being done to try and stop extinctions and prevent further species decline.

Tune in across the month to find out more about the species that we and our partners are working on to Reverse the Red and fight back against extinction.

Rosy Saxifrage reintroduced into Wales after 62 years extinct 
person holding a plant with white flowers

Rosy Saxifrage reintroduced into Wales after 62 years extinct 

The beautiful mountain plant, Rosy Saxifrage, has returned to the wild in Wales after becoming extinct in 1962.  

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Juniper on the Peaks: A Foot High Forest 

Discover the gnarled woodlands on the wildest peaks in Wales, as Robbie Blackhall-Miles reveals the secrets of Eryri’s miniature but magical Juniper forests.

Why the Wild Leek is a Symbol of Wales

Why the Wild Leek is a Symbol of Wales

The Wild Leek has been a symbol of Wales for so long that its stories date back to St David himself.