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How volunteers care for Three Hagges

Volunteers have been helping to care for the woodmeadow for over 10 years. The group was founded by residents in surrounding villages joining forces to turn a 10ha arable field into the Three Hagges nature reserve that we know and love today.  

We meet every Tuesday morning, rain, shine, or snow, and we do a range of practical conservation tasks to keep the woodmeadow a pleasant place for visitors and a thriving habitat for wildlife.  

Tasks change from season to season but include: 

  • Growing flowers and trees from seed in our bespoke polytunnel 
  • Planting wildflower plug plants and trees
  • Collecting seed 
  • Maintaining paths, benches and interpretation boards within the woodmeadow 

This winter we are coppicing areas of Hazel and we will use the material to create dead hedges throughout the site. Last year we used the hazel to create a woven story-telling den which was great fun. 

There’s always a long list of jobs to do so we never run out of tasks! 

Get involved with protecting nature

We’re lucky to have a wonderful network of volunteers who help survey and record the different species here. Volunteers regularly do moth trapping, as well as bumblebee, bird, reptile and plant surveys. This helps to understand the biodiversity this special place supports. 

The woodmeadow is incredibly diverse – you may be lucky enough to come across a basking Grass Snake or see a Buzzard circling overhead as you explore Three Hagges and the pond is teeming with dragonflies and damselflies in the summer. 

We can even keep track of weather conditions and water levels on site too through our recently installed weather station. None of this monitoring would be possible without the expertise and dedication of our survey volunteers. 

The magic of Three Hagges Woodmeadow

The whole of Three Hagges Woodmeadow is incredibly special. There are surprises around every corner to enjoy, such as a bee hotel, Crombie Roundhouse (a traditional shelter made of materials found in the wood) and wildlife pond.  

I love how the site changes throughout the seasons. In spring, the meadows and woodland are coming alive, with early spring flowers. Looking closely in the woodlands you can spot Violets, Wood Anemone and Stitchwort.  

As summer moves closer, the wildflower meadows burst with colour and are truly breathtaking as a sea of purples and yellows take hold with species like Field Scabious, Common Knapweed and Bird’s-foot Trefoil. 

Volunteering at Three Hagges

Without the volunteers, Three Hagges Woodmeadow would simply not exist. Volunteers have worked tirelessly growing hundreds of wildflowers a year so that the meadow is bursting with colour, and cutting back vegetation from benches and interpretation boards so that the site can be enjoyed by visitors.  

I would be completely lost without my team of volunteers – I couldn’t enhance and maintain Three Hagges on my own.

The volunteers are the heart and soul of the woodmeadow and they turn up, whatever the weather, to work hard, laugh hard and go home tired and happy. 

Where we work

The Cairngorms is characterised by two rare habitat types – the pinewoods and the high mountaintop plateau (habitat consistently above 650m). These are the main areas we work on, alongside upland species rich meadows and grassland fungi sites. 

The Cairngorms is a beautiful and varied landscape, from rough river floodplains, giving way to woodlands, moorlands and mountains.  

Above 1000m the flora becomes very different from what we are familiar with in the rest of the UK, with mosses, liverworts, hardy sedges and grasses, and dwarf woody plants no higher than your ankles clinging to rocks. It is closer to arctic communities than our lowlands.

How volunteers safeguard rare plants

We are lucky to have an amazing team of volunteers who support our work on rare pinewood flower species, as well as helping to identify and conserve species from meadows to mountaintops. 

In the pinewoods…

We focused on translocation of the pinewood species Twinflower Linnaea borealis cuttings between sites as we know remaining patches are declining due to lack of cross-pollination. Volunteers helped collect the cuttings, grew them on in their gardens, and helped plant them out at the new sites. 

Our other pinewood species, One-flowered Wintergreen Moneses uniflora, is poorly understood, and most of our work has focused on learning about causes of their decline and what we can do about it. 

From meadows to mountains…

In partnership with the James Hutton Institute, intrepid mountain climbing volunteers collected soil samples for eDNA analysis from Munro’s across the Cairngorms. This helped us discover more about the fungi that lie beneath the surface, doubling the total recorded mountaintop fungi for Scotland in one survey. 

In the meadows, Pastures for Life helped establish a grazing trial of a new conservation grazing technique called mob grazing in Strathspey. Volunteers put in hundreds of hours surveying over 250 quadrats at our trial farms each year, so we can understand more about the impact of this technique on wild plants and fungi. 

Volunteer Story: Saving Twinflower

In June 2023, volunteers mobilised quickly for emergency watering of Twinflower cuttings. The weather in May was perfect and we started the first round of planting out, putting ~550 cuttings into the ground. 

Immediately following this, June was startlingly dry and hot. We were panicking that our hard work would be wasted, with every cutting perishing in the unusually dry conditions. Freshly planted cuttings are especially susceptible to drought, as their roots haven’t yet established.  

Volunteers spent the month of June collecting water from burns and hiking up hills and across rough terrain laden with bottles just to sprinkle it over our plots and repeat the process again a few days later. I am so grateful to those that helped, and comforted to know we gave our Twinflower cuttings the best chance we could. 

Opportunities to volunteer

Volunteers have always been key to this project and are involved in all sorts of activities with us here in the Cairngorms. They can be attending a training course one week, surveying meadows the following week, pulling out invasive Rhododendron, and even taking care of rare plants at home. 

You don’t have to be a botanist to get involved with Plantlife. We’ve had help from school children, students, mountain climbers, and all sorts of folks who know very little about plants or nature. 

All you need to volunteer with us is a passion to learn new things and a drive to get involved and help out. 

  • Go to:

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re up for doing something to help wild plants. In fact, there’s an excellent chance that you already have – perhaps you have taken part in No Mow May, or have adopted an NPMS square? 

Whatever you have done, thank you! Your help is hugely appreciated. Now I’m going to ask you to do something else, something not quite as fun as putting on your wellies and getting out into nature – but something which could be even more powerful. 

What is happening?

Scotland Munsary Pools

The Scottish Government is consulting on a new Strategic Framework for Biodiversity. It’s a set of policies and priorities, and it’s the building blocks of a new law (a Natural Environment Bill). The government is looking for feedback on this framework to help them come up with a final version.

If lots of people respond to a consultation, all saying broadly the same thing, the chances are that the thing will get taken seriously. Our thing is wild plants, and we need your help to get wild plants taken seriously and embedded into the heart of this new strategy. 

How to get involved

We don’t often ask you to respond to consultations, but we’re asking you to respond to this one for two reasons. 

Firstly, this consultation is a big deal – opportunities to influence government thinking on biodiversity don’t come round very often. Plantlife Scotland, along with many other conservation organisations, has been calling for something like this for a long time.  

Secondly, wild plants in Scotland need all the help they can get.

The recent State of Nature report showed that, since 1970, nearly half of Scotland’s flowering plants, 62% of bryophytes and 57% of lichen species have been lost from areas where they used to be found. We need action now. 

How to respond

The consultation is big, and it can seem pretty confusing. Don’t be overwhelmed. You don’t have to answer all the questions. In fact, if the consultation hub doesn’t work for you, you can just send an email – it will still be read. 

Here are some ideas which you could use to help write your response:

1.  We need a programme of ecosystem restoration. We can’t just protect the last remaining scraps of nature we have left. We need to give nature the space to recover and expand, in order for it to be resilient. We think that Scotland’s rainforest, and our species-rich grasslands, are priority ecosystems which need urgent help.

2.  We need a programme of species recovery. Some of our plant species are in such a fragile state that they need targeted action to help them. Clear actions must be set out within the strategy to help recover threatened species.

3.  We need legally-binding targets for nature. If we don’t set targets, governments can’t be held to account, and there is little incentive for decision-makers to take action to halt the loss of nature. We need targets for species abundance and distribution, and for protected areas to be in good condition. 

4.  We need an effective plan to protect 30% of Scotland’s land for nature by 2030. Government has committed to delivering this, but at the moment there is little detail on how it will be achieved. We need to take the opportunity to create vibrant networks of recovering ecosystems with the space to allow species to thrive and move.

5.  We need a clear and specific funding plan for delivery. Restoring nature won’t be cheap, but neither will dealing with the fall-out from collapsing ecosystems. Investing in nature, and in all the benefits it provides for us, is always cost effective.


If you do get a chance to respond to the consultation, thank you! It really will help – every voice makes a difference. And once you’re finished, remember to do something nice to reward yourself. Maybe get outdoors, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself how amazing nature is. And know that you have helped in the fight to save it. 

Our work in Scotland

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. 

State of Nature 2023: Plants and Fungi

State of Nature 2023: Plants and Fungi

A new stock-take of the UK’s wildlife has revealed continued declines in our biodiversity, with over half of our flowering plants declining in their range since 1970.

Restore Nature Now: Take Action for Wild Plants and Climate

On 28 September, join Plantlife as we stand united alongside communities, world-leading experts and charities to ask our elected representatives, current and aspiring, to restore nature now.

Twinflower on the woodland floor with sunshine behind

Humans have put the planet on a path to a warmer world and now face urgent and interlinked climate and biodiversity crisis.

It is critical that world leaders strengthen not weaken green pledges and display meaningful climate leadership.

Healthy wild plants, fungi & other wildlife species and habitats provide essential solutions to the climate crisis and increasing resilience.

With 2/5 of the world’s wild plants at risk of extinction and only 3% of UK wildflower meadows surviving compared to 100 years ago, Plantlife are calling for ambitious action now.

Join us in speaking up for wild plants and climate

On 28 September, join Plantlife as we ask our elected representatives, current and aspiring, to restore nature now.

We come together united alongside nature lovers, environmental groups, No Mow May-ers, young people, change-makers and world-leading experts to push for ambitious action for climate and nature.

MEET : Defra Seacole Building, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF (entrance Great Peter Street)

TIME : 28 September 8am-2pm

NEED TO KNOW : We will be celebrating the wild places and species we love; people, placards, flags, colour, costumes, speeches and music at the place where our united voice needs to be heard.

There are currently no upcoming events

Past events

Online Talk: Stories Lichens Tell Us
Yellow plant growing on twigs

Members Only

Online Talk: Stories Lichens Tell Us

Wed, 29 Nov 2023
19:00 – 20:00
Online | free

Plantlife Members, discover the wonders of lichens with experts Dr Oliver Moore and Dave Lamacraft.

Restore Nature Now: Take Action for Wild Plants and Climate
Twinflower on the woodland floor with sunshine behind

Restore Nature Now: Take Action for Wild Plants and Climate

Thu, 28 Sep 2023
08:00 – 14:00
Defra Offices

On 28 September, join Plantlife to take action, standing united alongside the Restore Nature Now movement at the DEFRA offices in London.

Online Talk: Micro to Macro – a Fungi Expedition

Members Only

Online Talk: Micro to Macro – a Fungi Expedition

Thu, 19 Oct 2023
19:00 – 20:00
Online | free

Plantlife Members, join us in an engaging virtual journey through some fascinating British fungi species. 

These days it seems there is an app for everything, including finding out what creature critter or plant you are looking at. But are they useful? Are they accurate?

We tested 10 popular apps out on the field to put them through their paces, and picked 3 of our favourites. We looked at ease of use, accuracy, costs involved and what additional features they have.

flora incognita logo

Flora Incognita

Our favourite app from the ones tested, this is free to download with no intrusive adverts or other costs involved.

The aim of the Flora Incognita research project is mapping plants, therefore they record and use the location of where the plants are found.

That means using this app is not only beneficial to your learning, but also makes an important contribution to biodiviersity monitoring and research.

This app combines traditional plant identification with the latest methods of AI. To identify, simply click on the plus symbol which takes you through your options.

Ease of use 5/5
Identification skills 4/5
Range of features 4/5


picture this logo

Picture This

Claiming to be ‘the botanist in your pocket’, this app uses advanced artificial intelligence and was accurate for a wide range of species, from Sea Thrift to trickier species such as Mouse-ear Hawkweed.

Advertised as £24.99 a year, you can use the app indefinitely to identify plants without paying: when you open the app you come to a pre-home screen where you click cancel.

Other benefits include the app’s ability to identify common grasses, sedges and fungi – but we recommend some caution with these due to the cryptic nature of IDing these species. Picture This also has common questions and answers for each plant, along with stories and other interesting facts such as flowering times.

Ease of use 5/5
Identification skills 4/5
Range of features 4/5


inaturalist logo

iNaturalist (and Seek)

iNaturalist was created with the aims of recording your observations and sharing them with the ability to crowdsource identifications. The app is free and has a range of handy features that make uploading a breeze, including an automatic location based on the photos’ GPS tag, and the ability to record other wildlife such as insects and birds.

We found the app very accurate to a plant’s genus, a group of similar species, and sometimes even down to the specific species when multiple photos are added. This makes it the perfect tool for you to take your plant ID knowledge further with a field guide.

Seek is a simpler version of iNaturalist with an easier interface for the family. We found Seek had less accuracy in the field, so if you’re looking for something more thorough, we recommend downloading iNaturalist.

Ease of use 5/5
Identification skill 5/5
Range of features 4/5



Tips on using your phone to identify wild plants

  • There are ways to use your phones built in search assistants, however as they’re not purpose built for plants the results aren’t as accurate, unless they are obvious looking species.
  • We strongly advise you to only use plant ID apps as training tools rather than solely for identification. You could use the app to narrow your identification to a genus, then use your favourite plant guidebook.
  • From a health and safety note, the plant apps drained our phone charge extremely quickly therefore ensure you bring a portable phone charger to contact people if required.
What’s that Moss: ID Tips for Beginners

What’s that Moss: ID Tips for Beginners

Discover how you can identify the mosses where you live, and read about Lizzie's challenge to learn 10 mosses!

How to Find and Identify Waxcap Fungi
A red fungi growing in grass

How to Find and Identify Waxcap Fungi

Grasslands like meadows and parks are not just home to wildflowers, they are also an important habitat for waxcap fungi.

Lichen Hunting in the Welsh Marches
A stick covered in lichen

Lichen Hunting in the Welsh Marches

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.

Nature reserves aren’t just a thriving space for biodiversity, they’re a place to explore, an area which is scientifically proven to improve our well-being, and a magical experience to make memories.

Here are 5 ideas for you to add to your summer staycation mood board. Pack your picnic blanket and sensible shoes – it’s time to get out and explore!

Augill pasture view

Enjoy history and a hike in the North Pennines

Augill Pasture, North Pennines AONB

Discover a purple sea of Devil’s-bit Scabious at this mountain hay meadow in late summer on the edge of the Pennines. For the more adventurous among you, why not follow the steep path where you can discover an old lead smelt mill that dates from 1843?

Star summer species to look out for: Globeflower Trollius europaeus, Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea (June), Greater Butterly-orchid Platanthera chlorantha (June) and Devil’s-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis (August)

Location: near Brough, Cumbria (OS: NY 816146, ///tinkle.resist.dictation)

Mountain pansies in grass

Discover Mountain Pansies on the peaks

Deep Dale, Peak District National Park

If you’re looking for a rainbow of wildflower colour to be the backdrop to this years staycation, this is the spot for you. Look out for delicate Mountain Pansy on our walking route, which passes through spectacular limestone scenery with an exceptional wealth of flowers. Along the way is the picturesque village of Sheldon which is a good lunch stop, before discovering ancient woodlands to explore.

Star summer species to look out for: Mountain pansy Viola lutea (May-July) and Grass-of-Parnassus Parnassia palustris (July-Oct)

Location: Sheldon, Derbyshire. (OS: SK 165 698, ///announced.hangs.paradise)

Follow our walking route here.

Volunteers counting orchids at Caeau Tan y Bwlch nature reserve

Find Butterfly Orchids in Wales

Caeau Tan y Bwlch, Llyn Peninsula

In English, Caeau Tan y Bwlch means ‘the fields below the mountain pass’, and you’ll get spectacular views of the Eryri National Park which won’t disappoint. The reserve is a nature lovers paradise, with an array of different habitats, from meadows to bogs, which are home to Butterfly Orchids and other rare plants. Perfect for anyone looking for a wild weekend in north Wales!

Star summer species to look out for: Greater Butterfly-orchid Platanthera chlorantha (Jun-Jul), Intermediate Lady’s Mantle Alchemilla xanthochlora (Jun-Sept)

Location: Capel Uchaf, near Clynnog Fawr, Gwynedd (OS: SH 431488, ///lotteries.dusted.birthdays)

Go on a butterfly walk on the Cornish coast

Greena Moor, Cornwall

During the summer Greena Moor is a hot spot for butterflies such as the Marsh Fritillary, which are drawn by the purple pom-poms of Devil’s-bit Scabious on the reserve. As well as being one of the best remaining examples of the rare Culm grassland habitat, this idyllic reserve is perfect for a tranquil wander due to its isolated location just off the Cornish coast.

Star summer species to look out for: Meadow Thistle Cirsium dissectum (June-Aug) and Whorled Caraway Carum verticillatum (July-Aug)

Location: Week St. Mary, Cornwall (OS: SX 234963, ///wobbles.cats.digs)

Follow our wildflower walk.

Great Burnet growing at Seaton Meadows

Step back in time at Seaton Meadows in Rutland

Seaton Meadows, Rutland

Seaton Meadows is steeped in history dating back to medieval times, and the perfect spot for an afternoon walk alongside the dramatic purple spikes of Great Burnet, framed by the arches of the impressive Welland Railway Viaduct. Throughout the summer you can step back in time and watch as the meadow is managed in traditional methods that haven’t changed in centuries.

Star summer species to look out for: Great Burnet Sanguisorba officinalis (June-July) and Common Meadow-rue Thalictrum flavum (July)

Location: Near Harringworth, Rutland (OS: SP 913979, ///shun.theme.retailing)

A green and wild temperate rainforest in Scotland

Explore enchanted rainforests in Scotland

Barnluasgan, West Coast of Scotland

Did you know we had rainforest in the UK? Barnluasgan is where lochside meets these rare and wild temperate rainforests. Look out for lichens, mosses and liverworts; tiny plants that make Scotland’s rainforest internationally important. But be careful, don’t stray too far off the path, as Ghillie dhu, forest sprites restricted to the west coast forests of Scotland, protect these ancient woodlands fiercely!

Star summer species to look out for: Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum (June-Septemer) and Tree Lungwort Lobaria pulmonaria

Location: Lochgilphead PA31 8PF

Follow our walk which takes you through these magical rainforests.


When visiting nature reserves and other green spaces, don’t forget to follow the countryside code to protect these special places.

What’s that Moss: ID Tips for Beginners

What’s that Moss: ID Tips for Beginners

Discover how you can identify the mosses where you live, and read about Lizzie's challenge to learn 10 mosses!

Munsary Nature Reserve’s Road to UNESCO World Heritage Site

Munsary Nature Reserve’s Road to UNESCO World Heritage Site

Learn about why our Munsary Peatlands reserve is being put forward for inscription as the world’s first peatland UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A Botanical Art Journey of Plantlife’s Reserves

A Botanical Art Journey of Plantlife’s Reserves

Plantlife’s Artist in Residence, shares her summer journey across our reserves and some top tips for aspiring botanical artists.

Species on the Edge
North Coast Launch

Come and join us for the launch of a project to save Scotland’s most beautiful and most vulnerable species

Sunday 21 May 2023
11am – 2pm
Dunnet Community Forest

Pink purplish Scottish Primrose flowers in a field of grass

The north coast is home to some of Scotland’s most beautiful and most vulnerable species.
Together, we can help protect them.

Learn more. Drop in to find out about the Species on the Edge four-year programme of conservation activities on the north coast, including how you can contribute to increasing biodiversity in our area.

Come and try. Have a go at surveying potential sites to help us identify the best location to create a butterfly bank. Support will be provided – no experience necessary.

Cake provided. Bring your own picnic or packed lunch. We will supply hot drinks and cake.

Everyone welcome. Craft activities and a nature hunt will be available for children, who must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information about the event, or if you would like to know more about volunteering with us or the Species on the Edge programme of work, but can’t come on the day, contact



Look, the seasons, they are a-changing and I don’t know about you, but I am so looking forward to that sweet, sweet spring time weather. After the cold winter days and long winter nights, I am so ready to get out there and breathe in the freshness of spring.

Glen Nant – Scotland Rainforest

I would highly recommend taking a visit to one of Scotland’s rainforests if you have the opportunity. The high rainfall, and mild temperatures result in lush mossy areas just bursting with lichens and bryophytes it really does feel like I’ve stepped into a fairy tale. And if that doesn’t attract your attention then you’ll be impressed with the sheer abundance, diversity, and rarity of the species of Scotland’s rainforest.

It won’t be my first visit to the temperate rainforest; however, I’ve visited Glen Nant in the past. Plantlife has a downloadable handy wild plant walk leaflet for the Glen Nant Important Plant Area (IPA), so it was a solid motivation for a visit for me.


North Berwick Law for a Grassland Hike

But I hear you ask, what if I don’t want to visit a rainforest site? Looking for something short and located in the central belt?

Then download and check out North Berwick Law, our guide is for a nice 1 mile hike up one iconic hill in East Lothian. Plenty of opportunity to spot wild plants too, like Meadow Saxifrage Saxifraga granulata, this snow-white species is found in dry grasslands, or the hilariously named Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis, due to its delicate purple flowers starting to bloom just as the cuckoo first begins its call.

Dewy Red and orange hairs or trendrils of the sundrew plant

Ben Nevis

If you’re the Munro bagging type, then check out the Ben Nevis IPA, a delightful 10-mile hike that is absolutely rich in Bog Asphodel Narthecium ossifragum a plant once used for its potential as a natural dye or the delightfully carnivorous Round-leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia  (image by Michael Scott) which have long red-coloured stalks that are often seen with globules of ‘dew’ hanging from them. These globules are a polysaccharide solution to trap and digest their prey.

Anagach Woods, Cairngorms

If you’re keen to spend a day out in the Cairngorms, take some time to discover Anagach woods IPA. Download your a free guide here. Soak in the wonders of the Caledonian pinewoods, maybe you’ll spot the rare and iconic Twinflower Linnaea borealis? This special plant is a focal point for our Cairngorms Rare Plants Project. You might also find some Wood sorrel Oxalis acetosella, with its clover-shaped leaves (that taste like apples), this springtime bloomer has delicate white flowers with lilac coloured veins.

Mountains, meadows, rainforests, peat bogs, long or short there’s plenty of space for everyone. I’m looking forward to getting out there and stretching my legs, are you?