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People and plants in the Cairngorms

During the third year of our Rare Plants and Wild Connections project in the Cairngorms, we trialled alternative grazing techniques and identified two new waxcap fungi sites.

A group of people sat with their backs to the camera on a dry log in a brown grass field

It has been a busy year for our Rare Plants and Wild Connections conservation and engagement programme. The initiative has continued to bring together land managers and volunteers during 2022/23, all of whom share a commitment to protecting the precious wildlife in the Cairngorms National Park. 

As the UK’s third largest Important Plant Area (IPA), the Cairngorms is home to some of our rarest wild plants. It boasts a variety of important habitats, including wildlife-rich grasslands, ancient waxcap sites, rare Caledonian pinewood forests and breathtaking mountains. 

Rare Plants and Wild Connections aims to empower people to take action to protect these habitats and the species they support. It runs until 2024 and is funded and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Cairngorms National Park and NatureScot. 

A group of people sat on grass surrounding a quadrant marked on the grass

Our work during 2022/23

During the summer, we started survey work at four farms which are trialling a new grazing technique. Called ‘mob grazing’, its goal is to naturally regenerate meadows to increase the richness of the species they support. 

This saw us call on our dedicated volunteers to complete detailed surveys of the habitats and species at each farm. Their hard work uncovered some hidden gems in the corners of fields where the sward had not been improved. We hope that we can help these species to expand in the future by managing them more effectively. 

Our volunteers once again made a difference when surveys they completed helped us identify two previously unknown rich waxcap sites. Although often overlooked, these fungi play a key role in the way our grassland ecosystems function. As a result, follow up visits have since taken place so that we can help land managers understand their importance and the steps they can take to protect them. 

A group of people with raincoats on are spread throughout a forest

Preparing for the project’s final year

A key focus for the whole Rare Plants and Wild Connections project has been twinflower translocation. This is because these rare pinewood flowers survive in mostly clonal patches, so must be moved between sites so that fertilisation can take place.  

Over first three years of the project, we have focused on preparing the sites for these rare flowers and getting the volunteers who have been caring for them ready for translocation. By preparing carefully, we hope that we have given next year’s relocation the best possible chance of success. 

More ‘Work in Partnerships’ Projects

Nature recovery from the bottom up
Yellow rattle in a meadow

Nature recovery from the bottom up

We’re using the introduction of Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) to advocate for wild plants and fungi and their protection.

The impact of our work on nitrogen and peat
Landscape image of water rippling against the peatland on a cold overcast day

The impact of our work on nitrogen and peat

We’re working in partnership to tackle the threats which nitrogen pollution and peat sales pose to wild plants and fungi.

Saving Wales’ threatened species
Two people with looking at a plant with the mountain in the back drop

Saving Wales’ threatened species

Our exciting plans for Natur am Byth, Wales’ flagship green recovery project, were fully developed during 2022/23, paving the way for the initiative to begin in earnest in summer 2023.