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
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.
Plantlife have volunteering opportunities across the country, including working in our most unique habitats, like the Cairngorms Important Plant Area.
Discover the activities and work that our volunteers in the Cairngorms do with Sam Jones, Project Manager of the Rare Plants and Wild Connections Project.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Discover opportunities to volunteer near you….
Plantlife Scotland’s Alistair Whyte explains how, alongside Plantlife, you can make an impact on Scotland’s new Natural Environment Bill, putting wild plants at the heart of plans for nature recovery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read the consultation document and respond via the links below.
You can also send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The consultation closes on the 14th of December.
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.
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.
In the far north of Scotland lies Munsary Peatlands, Plantlife’s largest and wildest nature reserve.
At nearly 2000 hectares, it can seem vast, but it’s only a small part of the much larger Flow Country -an expanse of blanket bog which extends to 187,000 hectares across the north of Scotland.
It is this blanket bog, one of the UK’s most unique landscapes, which is being proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Munsary Peatlands forms an integral part of the proposed site, which is being put forward for inscription as the world’s first peatland World Heritage Site.
The Flow Country is the world’s the most intact and extensive blanket bog system in the world. As well as being hugely important for biodiversity, it is also an important carbon store, locking up around 400 million tonnes of carbon.
Plantlife manages Munsary, our nature reserve, for its peatland habitat and for its rare plants – including the threatened Marsh Saxifrage.
The proposed World Heritage Site is also an Important Plant Area, identified for its important habitat and rare species. Recognising the Flow Country by awarding it World Heritage Site status would further reinforce how important it is for nature and climate.
One of the species from at Munsary – Grass of Parnassus, image by Alistair Whyte
Munsary Peatlands Nature Reserve
Another species found at Munsary – the Round-leaved Sundew, image by Alistair Whyte
In August this year we were delighted to welcome assessors for UNESCO to the reserve, to highlight some of the important features of the Flow Country and to discuss its management.
The visit was part of a week-long tour of the Flow Country by assessors, who met with land managers, local communities and peatland experts as part of their assessment of the Flow Country bid – led by the Flow Country Partnership.
Here at Plantlife, we are strongly supporting the bid, and will continue to work hard to protect Munsary Peatlands as an important part of this unique landscape.
A decision on whether to award the Flow Country World Heritage Site status is expected next year – stay tuned!
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.
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.
Become a member from £3.25 today.
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.
Are you aged between 16 – 25, based in one of the Species on the Edge project areas, and passionate about your local wildlife? If so, this is an opportunity for you!
We are excited to announce that the Species on the Edge Youth Panel is now open for applications.
As one of the 14 panel members, you will meet virtually four times a year to collaborate with other like-minded young people from across the Species on the Edge project areas.
You’ll be discussing important environmental issues and exploring ways to positively impact your communities. Plus, you’ll have the chance to participate in a fully funded spring residential and receive training to develop essential skills that will help you stand out in the job market.
And that’s not all! You’ll also have the opportunity to:
Whether you’re a seasoned conservationist or just starting your journey, your passion for local wildlife and commitment to making a change is all that matters.
Applications are open now! Head over to the Species on the Edge website to sign up.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to SOTE@nature.scot if you have any questions.
Get ready to make a real impact for nature!
Plantlife is one of eight organisations working together on Species on the Edge, a new multi-partner conservation programme dedicated to supporting 37 vulnerable and threatened species found along Scotland’s coast and islands.
Plantlife is leading activity in once of the seven Species on the Edge project areas: The North Coast. Since the programme kicked off earlier this year, we’ve have been busy getting to know our area – the people and communities, and the landscape and species, including plants, bumblebees, beetles, and butterflies.
It has been a fabulous year for our plants so far, with many thousands of Purple Oxytropis Oxytropis halleri and Scottish Primroses Primula scotica seen on the cliffs and cliff-top meadows.
Shoreline surveys by Species on the Edge staff and volunteers have also found Oysterplants Mertensia maritima growing on several beaches in Caithness – a fantastic find!
2023 also saw the launch of a Conservation Summer School in partnership with Dunnet Community Forest. Young people who attended gained a John Muir Award, and credits for Saltire and Leadership awards. Participants also learned essential outdoor and fieldcraft skills and assisted with practical habitat management and species surveys.
Learn more about Species on the Edge here.
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.
Join Plantlife and an expert mycologist for an exploration of colourful Waxcap fungi in Deeside.
We will be introducing the work Plantlife are doing in the Cairngorms and the fungi we’ll be looking for during the day.
On the walk you will be practicing ID, learning about waxcap fungi conservation and habitat preferences, as well as surveying to gather information about these understudied species.
Please email email@example.com to reserve a place.
Please bring appropriate outdoors clothing and equipment and remember to bring along water and lunch.
Meet at Glen Tanar visitors centre, across bridge from visitors car park: https://goo.gl/maps/cn7Vn5LzsY3d6V4L7
NO 48064 96509
Plantlife may be in touch after the event for evaluation purposes, please let us know if you would like to opt out of this on the day.
Building on our previous work, Plantlife’s project, Rare Plants and Wild Connections, empowers people to take action to save and support our rarest wild plants
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.
Meet at Invercauld Estate Car Park (pay and display), just North of Bridge of Dee and the A93: https://goo.gl/maps/EdGqjj4UczawEgJm8
NO 18826 91284
We will keep you updated by email about our work, news, campaigning, appeals and ways to get involved. We will never share your details and you can opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Notice.