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
A biodiversity-boosting project, working with landowners, to restore and create 100 hectares of species-rich grasslands.
Since the 1930s, 97% of wildflower meadows across England and Wales have disappeared due to pressures from intensive agriculture and development.
We want to go beyond caring for the 3% that are left.
The Meadow Makers project will work with landowners to restore and create, as well as monitor and manage, 100 hectares of species-rich meadows over the next 15 years.
We’ve received a record-breaking £8million from National Highways to restore meadows, from Dartmoor to north Yorkshire, to help people nature and wildlife.
Meadows and species-rich grasslands are magnificent, in many ways. They are extraordinary ecosystems, with native wild plants at their heart.
Species richness in grasslands can significantly improve carbon storage in the soil, which is a vital tool for addressing the climate crisis. They also have fungal networks covering thousands of miles, can be home to up to 140 species of wildflowers, provide flood mitigation and provide nutrient-rich grazing for livestock.
Species of wildflower can be found in a single meadow
Hectares of meadow will be restored and created
Insects are supported by the food plant Common Bird’s-foot Trefoil alone
Over the next 15 years, seven sites – six in Devon and one in North Yorkshire – will undergo significant grassland restoration with our team of meadow specialists.
Every meadow is home to different species and habitats. This project will require unique care to allow the meadows to bloom wilder than ever.
On the North York Moors
The Meadow Makers project will contribute towards our goal of restoring 100,000 hectares of species-rich grassland by 2040.
What you need to know about grasslands and how to manage them
Plantlife is excited to welcome a new nature reserve to our growing network of sites around the UK – Three Hagges Woodmeadow in Yorkshire.
Three Hagges Woodmeadow is a 10-hectare reserve near York, and an incredible example of woodmeadow habitat which hosts an abundance of plants and invertebrates. Visitors can connect with nature among native British trees such as Small Leaved Lime Tilia cordata and Hazel Corylus avellana, which grow alongside some of our most iconic meadow species such as Ox-eye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare and Lady’s Bedstraw Galium verum.
Woodmeadows, or wooded meadows, are species-rich hay meadows with stands of trees – an ancient form of combining agricultural meadows with forestry. Three Hagges Woodmeadow is a patchwork of woodlands, copse and wildflower meadows, including a lowland wet meadow and a lowland dry meadow.
Woodmeadows are ‘habitat mosaics’, comprising of lots of ‘messy edges’ which support a huge variety of homes for wildlife. Long established woodmeadows can support extraordinary levels of botanical diversity, with some ancient European examples supporting 70+ plant species per square metre.
Paul Rowland, Conservation Land Manager:
‘Nature reserves offer islands of sanctuary for wildlife that’s under ever-increasing pressure from human activity and climate change. Plantlife’s work aims to not only provide robust and dynamic habitats for plants, fungi and their associated birds, animals and invertebrates to thrive, but also to extend their influence beyond their boundaries.
Nature reserves can and must be more than just islands. Our green spaces can provide sanctuary for us too – through wellbeing, education and the more sustainable production of healthy food.
Three Hagges Woodmeadow provides Plantlife with a unique opportunity, in our suite of nature reserves, in that it is a restored habitat on a site that was previously used for intensive agriculture. We will enhance the wood and grassland habitats here to help nature flourish and to provide opportunities for people to learn about, enjoy, contribute to and be rewarded by a beautiful environment that’s rich in plants and fungi.’
Expanding our network of reserves is important for nature, as it allows us to use the wealth of expertise within Plantlife to help green spaces thrive.
Recent work on our reserves has included planting fruit trees to benefit an ancient orchard landscape and the rare beetles that call them home as well as managing meadows to help Butterfly Orchids bloom in record numbers.
Welcoming a new reserve is a transformational moment in Plantlife’s history. It presents us with a unique opportunity to deliver our ambition to protect and restore wild plants and fungi, in meadows and woodlands for communities across the UK.
Ian Dunn, Plantlife’s CEO shares his excitement as we celebrate our 24th reserve:
“We were absolutely delighted to have been chosen by the Woodmeadow Trust to become the new guardians of their activities and assets. We are thrilled to be the new custodians of Three Hagges Woodmeadow and wider woodmeadow work moving forward and consider the combination to be a major contributor to Plantlife’s ambition for delivering a world rich in plants and fungi.”
Discover Plantlife’s newest reserve in Yorkshire, England.
Lugg Meadow is best known for its spectacular displays of fritillaries in spring, and it's rare Lammas floodplain meadow habitat.
Three Hagges Woodmeadow is Plantlife’s newest reserve in Yorkshire. Discover more about the reserve and how to visit.
The nature reserve, located in the Peak District national Park, is filled with colour from the wild plants and flowers spreading over the hill side.
Ever wondered why we need to go out and count rare plants?
Meg Griffiths from the Plantlife Cymru team, reflects on a summer of lichen hunting and data collection for the Natur am Byth! Project.
Natur am Byth! is a cross-taxa partnership, which means many different organisations are working together to save a variety of species – from insects and plants to birds. This is important as when any species is lost from an ecosystem, it can make the whole ecosystem weaker and less able to cope with change, regardless of what kind of species it is.
One element the Natur am Byth programme focuses on is the mini-wonders of the Welsh Marches. The area has a rich diversity of mosses and liverworts, lichens, fungi and insects. These species all have one thing in common: they are generally pretty tiny. Many people just aren’t looking closely enough to spot them –and that’s what we want to change.
But before we can get started protecting rare species, we need to know where we’re currently at. ‘Baseline monitoring’ gives us a picture of how our target species, and the sites where they exist, are doing – we can then use this data to plan how we’ll manage those areas for nature. We can also track how these species recover in the future.
So, I went out to some very beautiful sites in Mid-Wales, hunting for some of the project target lichen species. This is what I found
Lichen hunting can be like looking for a needle in a haystack – except the needle is as small as a pinhead, and the haystack is a woodland.
I got rained on heavily, I got lost hunting for trees, I had to shoo away cattle who were trying to eat my notebook, and I spent far too long peering through my hand lens checking every gnarly nook and cranny for some of these miniscule marvels.
At times I felt like I was living in that miniature kingdom. I’d come across insects and die of fright thinking they were enormous, and I’d pull my eye away from the hand lens only to be dizzied by the astonishing complexity of the enormous world we occupy.
It has been a joy working to collect the data which can be used to demonstrate that the Natur am Byth project is having a positive impact and supporting these species.
Not only does the project have the potential to support these rare lichens with recovery, it also has the potential to change perceptions – magnifying the hidden worlds we overlook daily and showcasing the rare and special mini wonders that occupy them
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 Natur am Byth partnership is Wales’ flagship Green Recovery project. It unites nine environmental charities with Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to deliver the country’s largest natural heritage and outreach programme to save species from extinction and reconnect people to nature. Thanks to players of the National Lottery over £4.1m from the Heritage Fund was awarded to the partnership in June 2023. NRW has contributed £1.7m and the Natur am Byth partners have secured a further £1.4m from Welsh Government, Arts Council of Wales and a number of charitable trusts, foundations and corporate donors. These include donations from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and significant support from Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposals Tax Communities Scheme administered by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA).
Robbie Blackhall-Miles shares story of how a tiny mountain plant’s name has evolved over the years, and it’s fascinating history in Wales.
Botanical plant names can tell you all kinds of things about a plant. Often, they are descriptive as in Saxifraga oppositifolia – literally, the opposite leaved rock breaker. Sometimes, they tell of the habitat in which the plant is found or its particular use as in Salvia pratensis – the cure from the meadows.
Personally, I prefer the descriptive names; the ones that guide me to where to find the plant or how to identify it. Colloquial names for plants, and those in other languages, can be equally descriptive, and tell of the things that people thought they should be used for, and why they were significant enough to warrant a name.
There are a few here in Wales that I love. Cronnell (Globeflower) just for the way it sounds, Merywen (Juniper) – because it’s so different from any of the common English names and Derig (Mountain Avens).
In our house ‘Our Derig’ has become a pet name for a plant that we visit each year. The etymology – the study of the origins of words – is wrapped up in something more than that though and in this case it comes down to its leaves rather than its flowers.
It seems surprising to me that the resemblance of its leaves to miniscule oak leaves was picked up on by the people of Wales as well as Carl Linnaeus who gave it its binomial name in his ‘Systema Naturae’ published in 1735. The name Linnaeus chose to give to Mountain Avens was Dryas octopetala.
In his book ‘Flora Lapponica’ (1737) Linnaeus wrote “I have called this plant Dryas after the dryads, the nymphs that live in oaks, since the leaf has a certain likeness to the oak leaf…. We found it, a gorgeous white flower with eight petals that quivered in the cool breeze”. The Dryads were demigods, and their lives were tied to the life of the oak tree they inhabited. In Greek mythology a tree could not be cut without first making peace with the dryad that inhabited it.
The Welsh name for the plant takes the same likeness to oak into account with the name coming from ‘dâr’ and ‘ig’; ‘Dâr’ means oak (Derwen means Oaktree) and ‘ig’ is a reduction of the Welsh ‘fachigol’ which means diminutive.
The Welsh name Derig was first published in J.E. Smith’s Flora Britannica between 1800 and 1804, and was published again by Hugh Davies in his Welsh Botanology (1813). This early publication of this name leads to the idea that it was in general use before that point and the plant was known from Wales by the local people.
In 1798 the botanist Reverend John Evans made a tour of North Wales but never managed to climb Yr Wyddfa. Despite this Evans wrote of the routes the Snowdon guides took up the mountain and the plants that could be found there. It is interesting that he lists Mountain Avens amongst these plants despite there being no evidence of it ever having been found on that mountain.
It wasn’t until 1857 that the plant collector William Williams with discovering Mountain Avens in the mountains of Eryri, high above Cwm Idwal. Later, Williams was accused of having planted the species at this site, as it wassuspected that he planted rare species to further establish his notoriety as a botanical guide. It wasn’t until 1946 that a second site for Derig was discovered by Evan Roberts in the Carneddau.
Derig is still only found at just two sites in Wales yet there are a few other sites, including on Yr Wyddfa, where the plant community with which it shares its two known homes exists.
So, what is in a name? In this case it’s a tantalising glimpse of local knowledge surrounding plants, particularly a ‘diminutive oak’ whose first discoverers may not have been eminent botanists of the time. In this case it seems likely that the people who lived and worked alongside it knew it well, certainly well enough to recognise it and give it a name of its own.
Thanks to Lizzie Wilberforce, Dewi Jones and Elinor Gwynn for helping with the research for this blog.
Picture credit – Derig in Welsh Botanology, Hugh Davies, 1813, Page 182 pt. 1-2 – Welsh botanology … – Biodiversity Heritage Library (biodiversitylibrary.org)
Throughout July, Plantlife is participating in Reverse the Red – Plants Month
Reverse the Red is a global movement aimed at raising awareness of the work being done to reverse the trend of biodiversity loss and ensuring the survival of wild species and ecosystems.
The initiative brings together a coalition of scientists, advocates, and partners who use data-driven and science-based approaches to plan and act for species conservation.
The movement acknowledges and celebrates the efforts of organisations, communities, and people in protecting and restoring endangered species listed on a Red List, with the goal of reducing their vulnerability and eventually removing them from the list. Reverse the Red Website
Red lists are a globally recognised way of listing and identifying the threat of extinction to species. Species are being assessed objectively based on ongoing scientific information and ongoing research.
The world’s most comprehensive list is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of threatened species. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There are other more localised red lists, such as the Great British Red List.
Discover some of the threatened species that we are working on and plan to protect and restore.
You can also learn about who are we are doing this with, as all the best effort in this world are done in collaboration and in partnership.
Image displayed are Plantlife plant survey at Munsary Peatlands Nature Reserve a part of Caithness & Sutherland Peatlands IPA Important Plant Area.
How Plantlife is moving one of the most endangered wildflowers in Europe off the Red Data list for Great Britain.
Some of our plants in Wales are threatened by extinction, but here are 3 species that are being brought back from the brink of extinction.
Did you know some of our plants are threatened by extinction? Here are 3 species that are endangered in Scotland and the work that’s being done to bring them back.
No Mow May
In May 2023 thousands of you liberated your lawn for nature during No Mow May, leaving the wildflowers to grow and providing a space for nature, from inner cities to remote rolling hills.
But what does a No Mow May lawn look like at the end of the month? Take a look at the pictures this year’s participants sent in!
With 1 in 5 British wildflowers under threat it is more important than ever to change the way we mow our lawns.
These wildflower stuffed lawns show that in over just a month, your grassy spaces can be a lifeline for wildlife. This gallery shows that people, wild plants, and pollinators alike can live side by side in a thriving green space.
Shorter flowering lawns are a haven for daisies and dandelions, whereas longer patches allow taller plants like Oxeye Daisies and Musk Mallow to bloom.
A No Mow May lawn can be beautiful as well as a refuge for wildlife. This sunny sea of buttercups from Samantha Barnes shows just how striking our wild plants are.
A short flowering lawn is a hardy and practical space, even when you need to nip to the shed for your bike! Image by Judy Manson
You can let wildflower grow tall even in a small patch of lawn in your garden, image by Jane Wood
Having a No Mow lawn doesn’t mean no fun! A flowering lawn provides the perfect spot for the next generation of nature lovers to discover the joy of the great outdoors. Image by Tina Radford
Taking part in No Mow May is a wonderful addition to any nature-friendly gardeners calendar. Long grass surrounding a pond can help provide space for amphibians. Image by Zoe Costello
This creative window display at a school is an inspiring reminder that caring for our wild plants is important to all generations. Image by Laura Churchill
A green oasis in a city centre. Allowing a diversity of plants to grow has the potential to improve the carbon capture potential of soil beneath our lawns by as much as 10%. Image by Kenneila Quashie
No Mow May participants reported sightings of many beneficial pollinators in their gardens, from bees to dragonflies. Image by Fiona Hobbs
Did your local council embrace No Mow May? 30+ councils let us know that they were allowing plants like Cuckooflower, a food plant of the Orange Tip Butterfly, to bloom. Image by Michael MacCuish
No Mow May doesn’t stop at your garden fence. Whole towns and cities bloomed with wildflower as councils and communities let their green spaces grow.
Schools embraced the magic of wild plants with beautiful signs and window displays, sewing the seed for future No Mow May’s that are bigger and wilder than ever before.
Watch the latest No Mow May results sent to us on our YouTube channel, and stay tuned for the latest updates as we head into our wildest summer yet.
It’s not too late to let us know you joined the No Mow May. By telling us if you took part in 2023, it will give us a better picture of how many gardens and green spaces were part of No Mow May this year.
For getting up close to our tiniest wild plants and fungi, you'll need a hand lens. Learn how to use one and get top tips on buying your own.
Plantlife’s Vascular Officer Robbie Blackhall-Miles finds an exciting new plant species for Wales. Read more about the Hares Foot Clubmoss and its discovery in Eryri in his words.
New things are always exciting, right? The first time something in your garden flowers, a new patch of Bee Orchids in an unmown lawn, a new record of something rare on your NPMS patch? How about a whole new plant species for your country?
That’s exactly what happened to me in the summer of 2021 – but first, some background.
Clubmosses are a group of plants that really excite me. They are a group of plants that have been around in one form or another since the Silurian period (that’s over 430 million years ago). We have five species here in Eryri: Alpine, Marsh, Fir, Lesser and Stag’s Horn. We had another, Interrupted Clubmoss Lycopodium annotinum, until the late 1830’s when William Wilson last saw it above Llyn Y Cwn (The lake of the Dogs) high above Cwm Idwal. By 1894 J.E. Griffith had declared Interrupted Clubmoss extinct in Wales in his ‘Flora of Anglesey and Carnarvonshire’. I have hunted for Interrupted Clubmoss now for years to no avail – I won’t give up.
A good day out in the mountains for me is a ‘four clubmoss day’. A ‘five clubmoss day’ will take me past just a couple of very specific points where I would see Marsh Clubmoss Lycopodiella inundata as well, and would force me on to a longer and circuitous route to get to the places to see the other four.
When I botanise abroad, the Clubmosses feature as high points in my adventures and I was particularly pleased to find one of our own indigenous species, Stags Horn Clubmoss Lycopodium clavatum growing high in the mountains of South Africa when I was there in 2017.
Seeing these plants, that have remained little changed for such a long time that still exist in our anthropogenic world, really excites me. I always look out for them whether they be tiny plants of Lesser Clubmoss Selaginella selaginoides growing in Calcium rich seepages or fens, or huge sprawling mats of Alpine Clubmoss Diphasiastrum alpinum that grow high on our most exposed sheep grazed mountain slopes.
And so it was that one day in 2021 whilst walking a path that I rarely use, I spotted a clubmoss that really stood out to me. This clubmoss bore a resemblance to Stags Horn Clubmoss, but its growth habit was remarkably upright and the majority of its cones being solitary at the end of its stems (peduncles) rather than in twos or threes on the end of short stems (pedicels) at the apex of the peduncles. In the back of my mind, I remembered another species of clubmoss that had quite recently been confirmed as being present in the UK. So, using the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s Code of Conduct I collected a small sample and took lots and lots of photographs.
On returning home that day I contacted a friend, David Hill, to see what he thought of the find – we were both a little confused and unhappy to declare what we thought it may be. You see, Hares Foot Clubmoss Lycopodium lagopus hadn’t been found further south than Scotland in the UK, and was considered rare there. The confusion for us was that L. lagopus and L. clavatum are very closely related and share a lot of characteristics.
The conversation continued between us for almost a year before I was able to go back to the site and see the plants with fresh cones. This time I carefully collected another sample and even more photographs and took them with me to the BSBI Botanical Conference at the Natural History Museum in London, where I thought I would be guaranteed to bump into Dr. Fred Rumsey – the man who wrote ‘the paper’ on Hares Foot Clubmoss as a UK species.
Sure enough, Fred was happy to declare this to have all the characteristics of Lycopodium lagopus and thus a new member of the Welsh flora.
Seeing our Welsh Clubmosses is exciting, finding a brand spanking new one is REALLY exciting. I had bottled up my excitement at finding this ‘something new’ for an awfully long time. The specimens had sat on my desk for nearly two years before Dr Rumsey had managed to see them. So, I am really pleased to tell you about it now.
We have six species of Clubmoss in Wales again, but not with the one we thought we may rediscover. To see them all in one walk would be a very long walk indeed so a ‘four clubmoss day’ will remain a good day in the mountains, a ‘five clubmoss day’ is still exceptional and a ‘six clubmoss day’, I am afraid, is just exhausting. One day I may be able to have a ‘seven clubmoss day’- that Interrupted Clubmoss may yet still survive somewhere in the mountains of Eryri.
This summer Plantlife Cymru worked with Species Champion Carolyn Thomas MS to raise awareness of the importance of grasslands in Wales.
Agricultural grasslands dominate Wales’ rural landscape. Finding ways to restore species-rich habitats to farms is a priority for Plantlife Cymru.
Calan Mai, the Welsh celebration of summer on May 1st, revives the importance of seasonal living and reminds us that our lives have always been connected with the yearly cycles of plant abundance.
At Plantlife, there is a buzz of activity brewing as the 1st of May approaches. No Mow May is our biggest campaign – calling on all parts of society to join in a national movement to create thriving green spaces.
We focus the campaign on May because it’s in May that the flowering season really gets going. Leaving areas of grass unmown in May lets the flowers multiply, better supporting wildlife over the summer. We might be the ones driving No Mow May today, but the seasonal relevance of May 1st has roots much deeper than any modern campaign can claim.
Calan Mai or Calan Haf (meaning First day of May or First day of Summer) was a special day of celebration for Welsh people. In certain places it still is. This festival has ancient origins, sharing cultural roots with May Day, Beltane and the European Walpurgis Night. Regardless of their differences, these festivals are united in a shared celebration of the returning sunshine. The arrival of the sun encourages plant growth, and therefore carries the promise of plentiful food.
During Calan Mai, people would traditionally dance, sing, and feast to celebrate the summer after a cold and barren winter. The village green (‘Twmpath chwarae’) would be officially opened, where people would gather to dance, perform and play sports. ‘Twmpath’ refers to a mound that would be prepared on the green. This would be decorated with branches of oak trees, and a fiddler or harpist would sit upon it, playing music in the evening sun.
Our ancestors were deeply connected to nature’s phases. So much so that important dates in the seasonal calendar were considered sacred and even magic. Many of the festivities and traditions of Calan Mai are based in spirituality and botanical folklore.
On Ysprydnos (May eve, one of the Welsh ‘spirit nights’, when the veil between this world and the next is said to be thinner) locals would collect branches and flowers to decorate their homes, celebrating and welcoming growth and fertility. Fires would be burned to ward off harmful spirits, and young men would place bunches of rosemary tied with white ribbon on the windowsills of those they admired.
The festival also marks a special point in the agricultural calendar. This is the time that Welsh farmers would turn their herds out to pasture. These kinds of customs remind us that, until fairly recently, a knowledge of how plants, animals, and landscapes change with the seasons was deeply engrained in cultural norms.
Nowadays, with central heating, electricity and food readily available all year-round, we’ve become detached from the turn of the planet. We observe and experience the seasons passing, but for many, harsh winters are nothing more than an inconvenience (although this is far from true for everyone). It’s hard for us to imagine the enormous significance the start of summer had, and continues to have, on people who rely directly on the land for their survival.
Remembering Calan Mai and engaging with movements like No Mow May allow us to reconnect with the seasons. They remind us to tune into the habits of the Earth and become familiar again with the blooms and busts of nature. It also nurtures our own physical and mental wellbeing. Although we might forget it sometimes, we are creatures who have evolved in a world that changes with the seasons. When we appreciate how reliant we are on our planet and everything it provides us it becomes clear that the start of summer really is something worth singing and dancing for.
By letting us know if you or your community space is taking part, you’ll be added to our map showcasing the collective power that this campaign has.Now sit back and watch the wildflowers grow…
Chris Jones, the Warden of Kenfig National Nature Reserve, recently found the very rare fungus, during a routine survey.
Every day, our wild plants and fungi are put at risk from planning decisions, chemical sprays and more. Find out what you can do to help protect nature.
Dave Lamacraft, Plantlife’s Lichen and Bryophyte Specialist, heads out to discover a wealth of extraordinary lichens which call Wales’ rainforests home.
I’m lucky enough to have worked in our temperate rainforests for well over a decade now, and although much of our recent work here at Plantlife has had a focus on rainforest areas of England, through our LOST project in the Lake District and the Building Resilience project in South-West England, both funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, I’ve had the opportunity to get out into some of our Welsh rainforest in past weeks and been reminded just how special they are.
The first of these visits was to the National Trust’s Dolmelynllyn estate at Ganllwyd to look at some transplants of Lungwort lichens that we undertook 5 years ago. This was initially an attempt to rescue these lichens from an old Ash tree that was literally clothed in Lungwort lichens, of three varieties, that blew down in a summer gale. Transplanting these big leafy species is relatively straightforward to do in practical terms but hard to get right, the skill is in finding the right niche and one that’s away from the chomping teeth of slugs.
Success is far from guaranteed, and the majority of these transplants had succumbed to slug browsing. There were some notable successes though, with this ‘lob scrob’ Lobarina scrobiculata thriving on a Sycamore, all the better as this is one of the rarer lungwort lichens in Wales. The area where this was transplanted has spectacular communities of lichens on old Ash, Oak and Sycamore trees, probably the best display of lungwort lichens in Wales with abundant Tree Lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria, Parchment Lichen Ricasolia amplissima, ‘Stinky Stictas’ Sticta fuliginosa and Sticta sylvatica and Blue Jelly-skin Leptogium cyanescens.
Another site visit took me to a remote woodland near Trawsfynydd where we’re helping Natural Resources Wales work out how best to manage this woodland. Although only a few miles up the road from Ganllwyd this is a very different woodland to Dolmelynllyn being at higher altitude and exposed to higher levels of rainfall this favours different communities of lichen and bryophyte with what could be considered our ‘cloud-forest’ lichens and a rich ‘hyperoceanic’ bryophyte flora including many rare species.
Image by Dave Lamacraft
This has also reminded me just how diverse our rainforest is, in the same that way that no two wetlands, estuaries or mountains are the same, no bit of temperate rainforest is the same. They all differ according to geology, topography, aspect, climate, history, management etc; our temperate rainforest in South-West England is quite different to that in Western Scotland, with Wales somewhere in between. They are especially influenced by ‘oceanicity’ – the degree to which proximity to the Atlantic influences climate – and broadly speaking they are drier and sunnier to the south and much wetter to the north.
This basically means that you’ll never see the same things twice and there’s a lifetime of exploration to be had. I’d urge anyone to grab a hand lens (by no means essential, but definitely helps appreciate the small things) and head out to explore.
Nature Reserve Diary
Our Augill Pasture reserve is a shining example of mountain hay meadow habitat in Cumbria which needs careful year round management by the Plantlife and Cumbria Wildlife Trusts team. We hear from Nature Reserves Manager Andrew Kearsey about how we’ve been working to protect the reserve this winter.
One of the biggest issues facing our nature reserves is the ongoing management of Ash trees suffering from dieback – Augill is no different as the woodland there is about 10% Ash. Some of the ash trees were identified through our tree safety surveys as being diseased and close to footpaths and the car park.
Two of the diseased trees were overhanging the Augill Smelt Mill. Any limb shedding would cause further damage to this structure, which is on the Historic England Scheduled Monument At-Risk register.
We made the decision to employ a local firm of tree surgeons to remove both these trees and several other ash trees around the car park. This work was delivered working with our tenant for the reserve; Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
The trees were removed in Mid-January and I went recently to check on their progress. When I arrived they had cordoned off the car park and footpaths and had their climber in the larger of the two trees removing the higher limbs. By the time I left about 2 hours later, they had removed the majority of the limbs, while the ground crew had processed the brash and timber into log piles and brash windrows
Pony grazed meadows at Augill Pasture Nature Reserve. Image by Andrew Kearsey Andrew
The grassland at Augill Pasture is managed by grazing and unusually for our reserves it is grazed by ponies. Two small ponies were put on the reserve in October and were taken off recently, as the weather became very cold at the beginning of January. This grazing will have controlled the growth of the grass species, allowing the forb species enough space to grow as the weather turns warmer.”
Plantife’s Meadows Hub has everything you need to help you manage your meadow or grassland including practical step by step advice, resources, links to training days and expert knowledge
Only 3.2% of England’s land and sea is protected. This is why nature reserves are so important.
They are protected havens for wild plants and wildlife. Will you help keep them flourishing?
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