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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.
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Plantlife is working with governments and landowners to protect and restore temperate rainforest along the Atlantic coast of England, Scotland, and Wales.
Characterised by the presence of unique lichens, bryophytes, mosses, and liverworts, rainforest habitats are highly fragmented and face threats from invasive non-native species, such as Rhododendron ponticum, alongside ash dieback, inappropriate grazing, and air pollution.
Temperate rainforests have some of the highest diversity and abundance of wild plants and fungi in Britain, with many sites qualifying as Important Plant Areas.
Protecting and restoring this ecosystem would speed up progress in meeting national and global targets to address the nature and climate emergencies, including the 2030 Global Biodiversity Framework. Investment in rainforest restoration would also build on past and present conservation actions, and help to build a green economy through employment, skills training and tourism.
The future of Britain’s temperate rainforest and its unique species depends on targeted action by the Scottish, UK and Welsh Governments to:
1. Establish national rainforest funds from both public and private sources to support long-term landscape-scale projects and other practical action.
a) The Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest has identified the cost of restoring the temperate rainforest zone in Scotland to be £500 million.
2. Increase protection of remaining rainforest sites and species through national strategy, policy, and legislation.
3. Provide advice and support for land managers to enhance and restore rainforest on their land.
4. Take urgent action to tackle key threats to rainforest including air pollution, invasive non-native species (INNS), and deer management.
a) More than 94% of the UK’s woodland is impacted by excess nitrogen deposited through air pollution and rainfall. Lichens are essential species in temperate rainforests, but they need clean air to thrive. Lichens provide food, shelter, and microhabitats for invertebrates, in addition to carbon cycling and water retention.
b) Invasive non-native species, like Rhododendron ponticum and ash dieback currently have the potential to wipe out much of the species diversity in Britain’s temperate rainforests. Funding projects that address this, in addition to making powers of enforcement more widely known and used where necessary, give rainforests to chance to thrive.
c) Deer are a natural part of thriving temperate rainforest areas; however, at their current population density, particularly within Scotland, their grazing prevents essential tree species from growing and this leads to a decrease in long-term regeneration of woodland areas.
Plantlife is calling on governments to invest in rainforest restoration and take urgent action to tackle the threats to this internationally-important habitat.
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.
Our wild and wet woodlands and the species that live within them are facing severe threats which Plantlife will be tackling through the Species Recovery Project.
This year we welcomed a new nature reserve to our growing network of sites around the UK – Three Hagges Woodmeadow in Yorkshire.
Site Manager Kara shares what the volunteers have been up to, from coppicing to nature surveys, and how you can get involved.
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:
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!
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 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.
There’s always something interesting to see although I must admit it is rather nice to sit on a haybale in Bodger’s Den, cup of tea and biscuit in hand, and chat through the morning’s work!”
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.
If you’re interested in joining our volunteer group at Three Hagges Woodmeadow, let us know by sending us an email!
Find other volunteering opportunities here.
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.
Drive positive change for your local wildlife and local communities with Plantlife's LNRS Local Nature Recovery Strategy guidance.
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
Lisa Gardner, Plantlife’s Artist in Residence, shares her summer journey across some of our magical Plantlife reserves, the rare species she discovered and some top tips for aspiring botanical artists.
I always thought that I was someone who immersed themselves in nature. The entire ethos of my work is inspired by the natural world; it’s the seeds that allow my paintings to grow. However, my life-changing trip this summer exploring IPA sites across the UK has opened my eyes. It’s shown me what truly settling into stillness and absorbing the magic of nature really is.
As part of my Artist Residency for Plantlife – and supported by Arts Council England’s Developing your Creative Practice Fund – I set off on a wildflower treasure hunt back in May to uncover rare species; many of which are currently living on the edge.
I have always been fascinated by the juxtaposition of a wildflower, how its strength can rise through rubble and yet its fragility can break at the lightest of touches. A wildflower experiences birth, growth, transformation and decay, often in a thimble of time. It shows courage, hope, resilience, a contentment that is enviable.
Being amongst wildflowers I feel joy, strength, grief and an easeful glimmer of peace. With every wildflower season, I am able to experience this cycle of emotions. I am my raw, honest self, no hiding, nature welcomes you as you are, inviting you to be part of the purposeful chaos. My art helps me grow down through my layers and expand my roots.
My journey started at Ranscombe Farm Nature Reserve in Kent. And what a start to the trip! I pulled up in the smallest of car parks where I was met by Ben, the site manager. He was excited to show me the incredibly rare Man Orchid: a handful of this endangered species had decided to make a verge on the side of a busy road their home.
If he hadn’t pointed them out, I would have walked straight past – but the moment you notice them, you cannot look away. Milky lime yellow with stripes of burgundy and tongues like snakes; they were utterly divine.
The juxtaposition of this rare, beautiful flower with the frantic hum of traffic continuously passing by felt like a metaphor for human nature. How much do we miss out on because we’re simply too busy?
My visit up to Scotland was the biggest part of my trip. The colours here were like a symphony; vibrant pops against a rugged landscape. Shades of storm grey into an icy blue, merging into crystalline greens. Soft lavender and silver ribbons. All these colours merged together against the textures of the flagstone rocks and the wildlife that burst from them.
And you had to work to find the rare species among this incredible palette! At one point, I had to lean right over a cliffside to spot the tiniest deep pink Scottish Primrose; it was so small and fragile – around 5cm tall – that you had to seriously tune your eye in to find it.
But I was so glad I made the effort. The Scottish Primrose can only be found in Orkney and the northern coast of Scotland. If it disappears from these sites, it’s gone forever. Our discovery, therefore, felt enormously poignant.
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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.
Spring is an exciting time to be on our nature reserves. This is the season when the meadows really burst into life, with lush growth and seasonal flowers.
Grasslands like meadows and parks are not just home to wildflowers, they are also an important habitat for a colourful type of fungi which prefer farmland to forests – waxcaps.
Every autumn one of the UK’s most colourful natural displays takes place: jewel-coloured waxcaps emerge through the grass across our countryside, cities and even some of our gardens. Let’s find them!
Waxcaps are types of mushrooms known for their shiny-looking caps. Together with other types of fascinatingly named fungi called pinkgills, earthtongues, club and coral fungi – they form a group called “grassland fungi”.
Waxcaps and grassland fungi come in a rainbow of different colours including vibrant violets, yellows, greens and pinks.
They also come in weird and wonderful shapes, which can help you to identify the species you’re looking at.
Chris Jones is the Warden at the Kenfig National Nature Reserve, one of our Dynamic Dunescapes sites, and has worked as a practical conservationist for over 25 years.
Kenfig is one of the largest sand dune systems in Wales and provides a unique habitat for a variety of rare and specialised species, including over 20 species of Waxcap fungi.
‘Waxcap fungi are commonly found in grasslands and meadows, and they are known for their ecological importance. They are often found in areas with short, grazed vegetation, but they can also occur in disturbed habitats, such as lawns and roadside verges.
Waxcaps are mostly found in the late summer and autumn, typically from September to November, depending on the local weather – but you can find them all year round.
The meadows where waxcaps are found are known as ‘waxcap grasslands’. These grasslands need specific conditions for waxcaps to thrive and are becoming rare.
On waxcap grasslands, waxcap fungi form partnerships with plants, where they exchange nutrients with the roots of host plants, benefiting both the fungi and the plants. This only happens in habitats with a high level of biodiversity, which the aims to identify.
Waxcap fungi are fascinating not only for their vibrant colours but also for their significance as indicators of healthy grasslands. Their conservation is important for maintaining biodiversity and preserving these unique and beautiful fungi for future generations to enjoy.
Many waxcap species are considered rare or threatened, primarily due to habitat loss and changes in land management practices such as tree planting and intensive agriculture. If you find any, please record them on the Waxcap Watch app.
I LOVE Waxcaps, they are AMAZING! It is ridiculously hard to pick a favourite, but if I had to choose it would be… all of them.’
This autumn, help Plantlife find Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
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.
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.
The ‘State of Nature 2023’ report is the most comprehensive set of reports on nature across the four UK nations, based on the latest and best data collated by thousands of skilled volunteers.
The startling data has renewed calls from Plantlife and its partners for urgent action for nature’s recovery by governments and across society.
…have declined in distribution across Great Britain since 1970. Also:
The reports also show that nature restoration projects, such as those delivered by Plantlife, and the shift towards nature-friendly farming can have clear benefits for nature, people and planet.
15% of flowering plant and 26% of bryophyte species increased their distribution thanks to nature restoration projects such as Building Resilience and Restoring Fen Orchid.
We need more of this work, on a bigger scale, now.
Plantlife and its partners are calling on all governments and political parties to put nature’s recovery at the heart of their policies as a matter of priority.
Nature is in crisis. Time is running out.We can’t wait any longer: we know the solutions and our politicians must act now.Use your voice to call for action for our wild plants and fungi now.
Here are some actions you can take:
Nature can’t wait.
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.
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.
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.
Learn more about how Plantlife and our partners are calling on the UK Government to prioritise grasslands and commit to developing a Grassland Action Plan for England.
It’s time for real action to make the most of our grasslands.
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.
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.
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