Come and be part of a global voice for wild plants and fungi
This autumn, help us find the Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
Plantlife’s Big Give Christmas Challenge 28 Nov- 5 Dec, make a positive impact in protecting remarkable lichens.
Go the extra mile and run wild for Plantlife
Become a Plantlife member today and together we will rebuild a world rich in plants and fungi
Embedding the principles outlined in Plantlife’s latest guidance into your Local Nature Recovery Strategy will drive tangible, positive change for your local wildlife and local communities.
Discover how, by targeting conservation efforts towards wild plants and fungi, you can deliver the greatest knock-on benefits for all species and habitats.
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 andb) 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.
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.
Download a copy of Plantlife’s guidance for local action – ‘How to Design your LNRS to Deliver for Plants and Fungi’
If you live in England, contact your local council to find out what’s happening with the LNRS for your area and how you can get involved.
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.
Discover how Plantlife is working with governments to protect and restore temperate rainforest along the Atlantic coast of Britain.
Drive positive change for your local wildlife and local communities with Plantlife's LNRS Local Nature Recovery Strategy guidance.
Nitrogen in the air is one of the greatest threats to our wild plants, lichens and fungi – yet few people have even heard about it.
Plantlife is working with governments, landowners and other partners to tackle its devastating impacts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read how Plantlife is working with governments and landowners to tackle nitrogen – one of the greatest threats to our wild plants, lichens and fungi
We are working to restore Pasqueflower, which can only be found at 19 sites across England, and Juniper, which is facing extinction in southern Britain.
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.
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.
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 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.
Join us at The Ucheldre to discover sand dunes through a new exhibition.
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.
Monday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00
Sunday 14:00 – 17:00
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:
For more information about the exhibit please visit https://ucheldre.org/ or contact the Ucheldre
Plantlife‘s work through Dynamic Dunescapes is supporting conservation action in England and Wales to improve the condition of sand dunes.
Plantlife Members, discover the wonders of lichens with experts Dr Oliver Moore and Dave Lamacraft.
On 28 September, join Plantlife to take action, standing united alongside the Restore Nature Now movement at the DEFRA offices in London.
Plantlife Members, join us in an engaging virtual journey through some fascinating British fungi species.
How Plantlife is moving one of the most endangered wildflowers in Europe off the Red Data list for Great Britain.
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:
We believe that the orchid could finally be removed from the Red Lists for both England and Great Britain.
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.
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.
Chris Jones, the Warden of Kenfig National Nature Reserve, recently found the very rare fungus, during a routine survey.
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
The effort Greena Moor Nature Reserve management team put in place to save the Three-lobed Water Crowfoot.
Reverse the Red
We know there are some endangered animal species in the world, but did you know some of our plants are also threatened by extinction?
The good news is saving them is possible. Here are three plants species that are endangered in Wales and the fabulous work that’s being done to bring them back from the brink of extinction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover how you can identify the mosses where you live, and read about Lizzie's challenge to learn 10 mosses!
Grasslands like meadows and parks are not just home to wildflowers, they are also an important habitat for waxcap fungi.
Ever wondered why we need to go out and count rare plants? Meg Griffiths reflects on a summer of lichen hunting for the Natur am Byth! Project.
The good news is saving them is possible. Here are three plants species that are endangered in Scotland and the work that’s being done to bring them back from the brink of extinction.
The ultimate northerner in our flora, Scottish Primrose Primula scotica grows on coastal headlands on the north coast, including Dunnet Head, the northernmost tip of mainland – but is found nowhere else in the world. Low-growing and easily overlooked, this tiny flower which only grows a few centimetres tall – calls clifftops, mosaics of heath and machair, and rocky outcrops home.
The county flower of Caithness, Scottish Primrose can only reproduce through seeds and is known to flower twice a year, once in the early spring and again in the summer. It is easily distinguished from the common primrose by its blueish-purple petals.
Scottish Primroses greatest threat is inappropriate grazing, as it declined historically to cultural intensification. However, climate change poses just as great a challenge as it is a species that is sensitive to climate extremes.
Incidentally, species that are found in such a small area will inevitably be in danger of becoming endangered. Unfortunately, long term trends show a steep decline in Scottish Primrose populations – that’s why the Species on the Edge project has identified it as one of its key species. Our North Coast team is focused on working to grow current populations, ensuring that this beautiful rarity is not lost.
Every year in late summer, in a handful of scattered locations, constellations of one of our rarest flowers blink into life across the moors. Once much more widespread, Marsh Saxifrage Saxifraga hirculus in Scotland has now retreated to only six places, all of them remote, far-flung, and one of them on Plantlife’s Munsary Peatlands nature reserve in Caithness.
Favouring damp, nutrient-poor areas with good water flow, marsh saxifrage is an attractive plant with bright yellow flowers which appear through August and into mid-September. Where it does cling on, it can flower in great profusion, with over 1000 flowering shoots at Munsary in some years making this population the largest in Scotland.
Changes in land use, such as afforestation, over-grazing and the draining of moorland, have led to major losses of this beautiful plant. Its extinction in Austria, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, and its dramatic decline in Britain and across Europe, led to its protection under the European Union’s EC Habitats Directive.
Marsh Saxifrage can recover when conditions are right – the population at Munsary was only discovered in 2002. Plantlife has been involved in its conservation for a number of years, and it seems that this appearance was in response to a drop in grazing levels, with the plant having been hanging on undetected for many years.
Growing almost exclusively in the native Caledonian pine forests of Scotland, Twinflower has suffered as these magnificent forests have been lost. Reduced to a handful of fragments, the pine forests are a shadow of their former selves, and are isolated from each other, scattered as small islands of woodland through the Highland landscape.
This loss of the forests means the loss of the Twinflower. Its populations have become so fragmented and isolated from each other that the distances are too great for its pollinators, which it relies on to produce viable seed. As a result, the remaining populations have become vulnerable to extinctions, with none of the genetic resilience that pollination can bring.
This genetic isolation makes the remaining plants susceptible to disease and changing environmental conditions. In the long-term, if it can’t reproduce, the species will be lost from Scotland.
Plantlife is working on the Cairngorms Rare Plants and Wild Connections project with partners to restore the forests and help the Twinflower re-establish itself. To achieve this, we are undertaking translocations of genetically different patches of the flower to areas near to each other to allow pollination to occur. This is being done with the help of volunteers and in partnership with landowners across the national park.
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, Plantlife plan to recover 100 plant species, and move them out of high extinction risk categories, into lower risk categories.
Plantlife’s Cairngorms Project Manager Sam Jones reveals how a tiny flower in Scotland is fighting back against extinction in the UK, and what we’ve learnt about this mysterious wee plant.
I’ve been spending a lot of time reading what little information there is on One-flowered Wintergreen, Moneses uniflora, during site visits, and chatting with other experts. I’ve been trying to figure out what has caused its sharp decline in abundance and distribution globally, and how we can help prevent it here in Scotland.
The uncomfortable answer I’ve come to is that we still don’t really know all that well. Around 10% of the Scottish population is in the Cairngorms, the rest distributed sparsely across the Highlands. In the last 50 years, I estimate that we’ve lost half of our populations, and of those remaining, only a few are stable or improving. We may soon lose all One-flowered Wintergreen in the UK without intervention.
One-flowered Wintergreen is the only member of its genus Moneses, closely related to Pyrola, a group containing the other wintergreens, such as Intermediate Wintergreen (Pyrola media). Sadly, all are rare and in decline.
True wintergreens are partial-mycoheterotrophs, which means that they have an alternative to photosynthesis for acquiring their energy to grow. They can parasitically take sugars and other minerals from fungus in woodland soils.
This ability to uptake energy from the soil as a supplement to their photosynthesis is likely part of why they are so challenging to understand and to propagate in captivity. There have also been suggestions that the presence of specific fungi is necessary for the tiny powder like seeds to germinate.
One-flowered Wintergreen does not seem to have an easily definable niche. It is very rare, only occurring at specific sites, and often isolated to an area a few tens of metres across in a large and apparently suitable woodland.
Recently, we have had some breakthroughs helping us to understand this plant better. Trials of cattle grazing in woodland have yielded rapid recovery in a One-flowered Wintergreen population. Another site was heavily trampled and disturbed in the process of Rhododendron removal, again yielding rapid recovery of Wintergreen. These plants all seem to recover on sites where bare ground, trampled wood, and organic material are present.
On forestry sites, One-flowered Wintergreen appears to grow only along forestry tracks and where the ground has been historically disturbed. A picture is starting to emerge of this species favouring periodic heavy disturbance of woodland soils.
Armed with this information we are providing advice to current land managers. We are also investigating options for a small-scale trial translocation of One-flowered Wintergreen, as much to aid in our learning of the needs of this rare flower, as to aid the genetic resilience of a small and struggling population.
Thousands of years ago, before significant human alteration to the landscape of Britain, perhaps One-flowered Wintergreen existed in a particular niche. It may have relied on the bare ground made by a wild boar digging for roots in the woodland, or the wood pulp made by a beaver chopping a tree, or the trampled ground under the hoof a mighty Auroch.
In the modern world humans create this niche for them more than animals, and sadly, our modern management of pine woods has favoured it less. Through research and collaboration, we will be able to manage woodlands holistically, providing a mosaic of habitat for One-flowered Wintergreen in Scottish pinewoods, as well as other rare native species.
Discover the activities and work that our volunteers in the Cairngorms do with Sam Jones of the Rare Plants and Wild Connections Project.
Learn about why our Munsary Peatlands reserve is being put forward for inscription as the world’s first peatland UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plantlife’s Artist in Residence, shares her summer journey across our reserves and some top tips for aspiring botanical artists.
Date: Tuesday 18 July 2023
Time: 13:00-14:00 BST / 08:00 -09:00 EDT
Location: Online – Zoom
Free – No Booking Needed
Join us for a webinar organised in partnership with the Reverse the Red movement on Important Plant Areas (IPAs) Protecting Threatened Plant Species.
Chaired by: Ian Dunn, Plantlife CEO
The issue of plant blindness; the application of IPAs using IPA criteria; overview of IPA role in the ‘assess, plan and act’ cycle.
Asses: The use of Red Lists for the identification of the Important Plant Areas against IPA criteria, example from Africa.
Plan: The role of IPAs in planning for species recovery (reintroduction) an example from Guinea.
Act: How conservation activities within an IPA are supporting species recovery, an example from the UK.
To complete the webinar there will be a Q&A session.
Ian Dunn joined Plantlife as Chief Executive in early 2020 from the role of Chief Operating Officer at the University of Southampton. Plantlife is the UK’s largest NGO focussed on the conservation of wild plants and fungi, on our own reserves and with land owning or managing partners from all sectors of society. Plantlife is also instrumental on the international stage as a founding member of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation and co-author of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Previously, Ian was the Chief Executive of the Galapagos Conservation Trust and on the managing board of the British Antarctic Survey. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.
Iain Darbyshire is a botanist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew with over 20 years’ experience of documenting species diversity and extinction risk in tropical Africa. With a keen interesting in applying taxonomic knowledge and collections-based science to biodiversity conservation planning, he co-ordinates the Tropical Important Plant Areas programme at Kew and is working in close collaboration with partners in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda to document IPAs and advocate for their protection and sustainable management.
Charlotte Couch is the project coordinator for the Tropical Important Plant Areas of Guinea for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and is Technical Advisor to the National Herbarium of Guinea. She works with project partners to deliver conservation of threatened plants and implementation of IPAs in Guinea with local communities. She has over 15 years’ experience of working on the plants of Guinea and developing collaborations.
Nicola Hutchinson leads Plantlife’s conservation teams and programmes across the UK and globally. With over 20 years’ experience in the strategic development and delivery of conservation programmes, political advocacy and the establishment of coalitions and partnerships. Nicola played a lead role in the identification and subsequent conservation of the UK’s Important Plant Areas.
An ambitious Plantlife project to revitalise populations of Juniper in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire to prevent native Juniper from becoming extinct.
Across our downlands, this iconic shrub has failed to regenerate for the past 60 years and as the bushes reach the end of their lives, whole colonies are dying out.
Juniper had been lost from nearly 50% of its historic range and without vital conservation work, is likely to become extinct in lowland England within the next 50 years, in turn impacting on the species it supports, such as Goldcrest, Fieldfare and Song Thrush.
In the Saving England’s Lowland Juniper project, Plantlife joined forces with landowners, supported by Natural England, to revitalise Juniper across southern England. 48 patches of land at nine sites in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire were scraped back to create a grassland habitat suitable for Juniper to regenerate. These efforts focused on hotspots where Juniper is in rapid decline and took place in partnership with the Wylye Valley Farmers Group. Early successional habitat suitable for Juniper regeneration has been created as a result, with the land then seeded with Juniper collected from nearby bushes.
The project areas in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire have been selected as they are key areas on our southern chalk grassland where Juniper population patches can be re-established and where clusters of populations occur in close proximity.
This is the first time Juniper has been regenerated in a near-natural manner on a landscape scale anywhere in the British Isles. It comes following a successful trial, which saw more the 200 new Juniper bushes regenerate within ten years on land scraped by Plantlife in 2009.
The bare ground will also benefit 16 other threatened and scarce plant species which colonise early successional habitat including:
Juniper, Juniperus communis, is a prickly, sprawling evergreen shrub in the Cypress family with short spiky leaves. It blooms with small yellow flowers, followed by ‘berries’ (which are actually fleshy cones) that start green but ripen to blue-black.
It is unusual in its choice of habitats which contract greatly between the north, where it grows on acid soils in cold and rainy places, and the south, where it favours hot, dry calcium-rich soils.
The Saving England’s Lowland Juniper project was funded primarily by Defra’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund, with support from Formula Botanica.
We are continuously looking for further funding and support on the development of grassland habitat.
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