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.
It’s waxcap season in the Upper Ystwyth and Plantlife’s Sheena Duller explains why fungi and farming can go so well together.
I have recently joined the Plantlife team on the Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn (Resilient Grasslands) Project, at a time when grassland fungi are at their peak.
Chris and I have farmed our small slice of west–facing Cambrian mountain for the last 22 years. In that time, we have seen the variety and diversity of plant life quietly improve, and this has extended to the amazing fungi in our grassland.
Our land is a mosaic of rock, bog, wet and dry grassland, with a little bit of improved pasture so we can ensure we produce our Welsh Black cattle purely on grass (with no bought in feed) – minimising our environmental impact. Maintaining a species–rich grassland has benefits for soil health and overall environmental resilience above and below ground, which expands into the wider environment – encouraging insects and birds and even safeguarding water quality.
Fungi are fickle in their appearance and may not throw up fruiting bodies every year, or in the same place, but generally in autumn, the fungi that are particularly spectacular are the family of waxcaps. They are a colourful and magnificent family of 60 or so grassland fungi.
On our farm, we’d already counted 21 species of waxcap, but this year that was surpassed by the first appearance of species number 22, the Yellow Foot Waxcap Cuphophyllus flavipes. It has a domed grey cap and pale gills that run down the stem, which is white with distinct yellow colouration to the base.
This summer was unusual, with August and September being almost constantly wet, bringing out a large number of Blackening Waxcaps, Hygrocybe conica, early in the season (there is a second flush now). This was followed swiftly by solitary Citrines, H.citrinovirens, which appeared in some unlikely places (including the edge of an ‘improved’ field).
A particularly pleasing waxcap to appear recently was the aptly named and rather large Splendid Waxcap, Hygrocybe splendidissima. The large, bright red cap quickly expands, spreading as it matures and is similar to other red ones but generally larger. All types of red waxcap are indicators of particularly good quality waxcap habitat.
And we can’t forget the small orange ones that are devilish to identify! We are expecting more species to appear as the autumn progresses.
Having at least some species-rich grassland on a farm is important to help restore balance within the system. In simple terms, providing refuge for beneficial insects and a food source for birds, which then prey on pests, strengthens the ecosystem. Plus, just like us, grazing livestock will appreciate a varied diet and as with us, it helps to improve gut health. The fungi pose no risk to livestock and they tend not to eat them.
The financial impact of maintaining some species-diverse and fungi-friendly grassland on a farm needn’t be an issue. Steeper slopes and poorer areas of farmland are not economic to maintain as highly productive swards, so there can be a net gain by returning these areas into species-rich grasslands, which provide resilient grazing areas at difficult times of the year.
One of the challenges with fungi identification is that they can change shape and colour as they expand.
But, if you’ve spotted some waxcaps, here are some handy things to look out for:
Britain is home to some of the most important waxcap grasslands in the world – but many species are becoming rare and declining. We need your help identifying and protecting them through the #WaxcapWatch.
Fungi are particularly sensitive to soil damage due to their predominantly underground life cycle, so it is the undisturbed grassland with no artificial inputs that they thrive in. This may be grassland with a good diversity of wildflower and grass species, but it’s important to note that many outstanding waxcap grasslands are botanically quite nondescript.
What links waxcap grasslands with flower-rich ones is that they have declined dramatically across the UK through changes in agricultural practices and urban development. These grasslands are multifunctional and could have an important place in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration, resilience against drought and flood, improving water quality and the wellbeing of both environment and people.
If you want to improve fungal communities on your farm, here are some simple actions:
Images: Cows in field Photographed by: Lydia Nicholls
Our Global Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Rumsey, will be at COP28 to speak up for the vital role of wild plants and fungi in the fight against climate change.
Three Hagges Woodmeadow Site Manager Kara shares what volunteers do, from coppicing to nature surveys, and how you can get involved.
Discover the activities and work that our volunteers in the Cairngorms do with Sam Jones of the Rare Plants and Wild Connections Project.
In 2022 Lizzie Wilberforce took up the challenge of trying to learn some of Britain’s most common moss and liverwort species, near her home in damp, mossy west Wales.
‘Inspired by Lief Bersweden’s Couch to 10 Mosses on Twitter, I decided to give it a go and independently teach myself some mosses and liverworts out on my walks.
I have always been interested in identifying plants, even as a child. As an adult, I’m now able to identify most common species on my patch, but still with a huge amount still to learn. Bryophytes, known as mosses and liverworts, were even more of a mystery to me.
I’d always appreciated the aesthetics of their soft cloaks of green that envelop damp woodland, and the sheer resilience of the small, tufty species eking out a living in the harsh conditions of our sun-baked stone walls.
Naming them, however, always felt like an art that was out of my reach.
The first step is to spot just 1 or 2 interesting but abundant species when out for a walk, and to then bring home a very small piece of them to ‘key out’ – using an ID guide to identify the species.
Here are some tips which have helped me, for when you’ve spotted your first moss species.
Don’t be intimidated! Mosses and liverworts have a bit of a reputation for being tricky, but it’s great fun when you get into it. Looking a bit closer through a hand lens also reveals whole new levels of intricacy and beauty in these glorious plants.
These 2 publications have been incredibly helpful as ID guides: the British Bryological Society’s ‘Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland’ has been my go-to book for keying samples out, and of course a hand lens is vital.
I’ve also found that the Species Recovery Trust’s booklet ‘A Field Guide to Bryophytes’ has been helpful for quickly spotting some of the most common species I was likely to encounter based on habitat.
Going wrong and getting stuck has been an inevitable part of being a beginner. I’ve found that the Google Lens mobile phone app – whilst it does a poor job of species identification, can sometimes do enough to point me in a new direction if I’ve gone wrong early in the key.
A guidebook will take you to the right species, but it won’t always tell you which one or two features are the easiest to spot in the field – an expert will help you learn that shortcut much more quickly.
My county recorder, Sam Bosanquet, has been incredibly patient and helpful. Your local county recorder could have access to distribution maps such as Sam’s Carmarthenshire County Flora, which are a good sense check – find your county recorder here.
I’ve also recently joined the British Bryological Society, which gives me access to supportive recording groups and events.
I’ve also had to accept that my learning is seasonal – but one of the great things about mosses and liverworts is that it has provided me with new things to do in the tail ends of the year.
Sometimes it’s felt like one step forward and two steps back, with long names and complex features that I struggle to keep in my brain. However, embracing it as a slow process has meant it’s always stayed fun.
I’m gradually getting better at recognising some of the commoner species in the field, and every now and then, I’m even filling in a gap on the distribution maps – which help protect these species for the future.
Bryophytes desperately need more advocates and recorders. So, if you’ve ever thought about giving it a go, but thought them a bit intimidating- don’t! Set yourself a target of 10 and give it a go. Who knows where it’ll take you next?‘
Thuidium tamariscinum has a name that is a little tricky to commit to memory, but its wonderful complex fern-like structure is very distinctive. It’s abundant in my local woodlands and hedge banks, and is one of the first mosses I learned to recognise in the field.
Plagiochila asplenioides, a large leafy liverwort that was one of the first to catch my attention on local road verges.
Discover the names of temperate rainforest mosses which could be in woodlands near you!
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.
The State of Nature Report 2023 is the latest go-to resource for information on how our species and ecosystems are faring in Wales, and across the UK.
Drawing on the best available data, the report acts as a stock-take for our wildlife, painting a picture of how the natural world is doing in response to the numerous pressures it faces.
The report headlines are alarming – calling for decisive and urgent action to protect our species.
Here’s a closer look at some of the headlines from the report, what they mean for our species and habitats in Wales, and what we at Plantlife are doing to make a difference:
1. Of 3908 species [all taxa] that have been assessed – 18% are threatened with extinction from Wales
This means that almost 1 in 5 species are at risk of being lost forever.
When we lose species to extinction, it undermines our ecosystem’s ability to adapt and respond to environmental pressures. For this reason, recovering species is one of our strategic missions at Plantlife.
We achieve this mission in partnerships through funded species recovery projects, such as Natur Am Byth, and through targeted interventions that support declining priority species, such as our work on Fen Orchid, Tree Lungwort and Yellow Marsh Orchid.
2. Plant species associated with upland habitats like bogs and heathlands have declined.
As temperatures rise, plants that are adapted to live in the cooler upland areas have two options: they can either move further north or move higher up into the mountains. However, for species with fragmented populations, northward expansion is impossible, and so their only choice is to move to higher ground where the temperature is cooler.
Without intervention, these species will eventually have nowhere else to go, and they could be lost from Wales completely.
This is one of the reasons that the arctic-alpine plant community has been selected as a priority for the Natur Am Byth project. The Tlysau Mynydd Eryri (Mountain Jewels of Snowdonia) project sets out an action plan to directly intervene and save these vulnerable alpine plants.
Other pressures threatening upland plant communities are the expansion of coniferous woodland plantations, inappropriate grazing patterns and excessive levels of air pollution.
We are working to address these threats holistically, through direct intervention, influencing land management practices and wider advocacy work to ensure policies and legislation help address these threats.
3. The flora of Wales is changing – there has been a decrease in the distribution range of 42% of vascular plant species.
In order to bolster and support our plant species, we target our work where its most needed.
The majority of our species-rich grasslands have been destroyed since the 1940s, and they are now among Great Britain’s rarest habitats. This is despite grasslands having the potential to contain the greatest number of species per square metre of any habitat, and store large amounts of carbon securely in their soils.
Our new Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn (Resilient Grasslands) project seeks to improve the health of our grasslands in protected sites across Wales, supporting species to recover and thrive.
We are also calling on governments in England, Scotland, and Wales to take a strategic approach to grasslands and meaningfully incorporate them into climate and nature policy, in order to achieve national and international targets.
Although many of the headlines can seem bleak, the State of Nature report serves as a call to action.
Rather than becoming demotivated, the direction that this report provides should act as a catalyst to produce positive change where it’s most needed.
Armed with this knowledge, we will continue taking proactive steps to support our species and help them recover wherever we can.
Read more about the State of Nature report 2023 and how you can use your voice to call for action for our wild plants and fungi now.
A closer look at some of the headlines from the State of Nature 2023 report, and what they mean for our species and habitats in Wales.
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.
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.
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.
From idea to installation – as told by Hannah Lee, People Engagement Officer for the Dynamic Dunescapes Project.
Read on to discover how the idea behind the new sculpture at Crymlyn Burrows SSSI came to be. View the artistry of Eifion Thomas – JET Blacksmith – in forging the new archway sculpture and catch up on the launch event held July 2023. If you visit the Swansea Bay area why not take a moment to explore Crymlyn Burrows and all it has to offer?
Sunday 16th July 2023 was an exciting day for the Dynamic Dunescapes project team working in Wales. Co-hosted by Plantlife and seven other partners through Dynamic Dunescapes, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate an entryway sculpture created by Welsh Artist Blacksmith Eifion Thomas (JET Blacksmith).
We have recently unveiled a locally-inspired sculpture intertwined with butterflies, birds and dragonflies in Wales.
The new sculpture at Crymlyn Burrows, which has taken four years to create, has been a huge part of the work of the Dynamic Dunescapes project at the SSSI in Swansea Bay. Backdropped by Swansea University’s Bay Campus, Crymlyn Burrows is one of 10 Dynamic Dunescapes sites in Wales.
The concept behind this sculpture was to create a sense of arrival for people visiting Crymlyn, and it was designed to include elements of the site that local residents connected with the most. Visitors to the sculpture will see it has butterflies, birds, dragonflies and more intertwined in it. We wanted it to represent not only the now but also the past and future of the site.
Ben Sampson, Swansea University Sustainability Officer and Crymlyn Burrows Warden
The initial ideas for this project ranged from a single statue to a panel that would frame the diverse landscape of the SSSI. Through consultation with local visitors in 2022 the idea of an archway was selected, and key themes were voted upon.
Through a similar voting process, it was decided that the sister sculpture would more heavily reflect the surrounding landscape, with elements of the local dune systems of Crymlyn Burrows and sister site across the Neath Estuary at Baglan Burrows incorporated.
With ideas at hand, we set to finding a Welsh Artist Blacksmith who could bring this project to life. Pembrokeshire-based blacksmith Eifion Thomas (JET Blacksmith) was successful in capturing the windswept nature of the dunes of Swansea Bay.
As the months of 2023 began to tick by, each new update on the process of forging the sculpture was met with admiration for Eifion’s skills.
The installed sculpture is one of a pair, and high on the design priorities for visitors was the inclusion of butterflies, bees, plants and flowers, birds, and the local landscape in the design. Credit: Dynamic Dunescapes / Andy Davies Photography and video
Acknowledging the local area’s industrial history, both sculptures would be made of metal. Credit: Ben Sampson
In his dynamic sculpture concept we saw an archway that looked like it was almost already blowing in the wind, lifting up and off into the sky. Credit: James Eifion Thomas (JET Blacksmith)
Gradually we began to see red hot butterflies and delicate flower petals emerging from flames. Credit: James Eifion Thomas (JET Blacksmith)
As well as the ribbon-cutting, the day involved guided walks, arts activities, a full day of bio-blitzing and a scavenger hunt! Local vendor Van Goffi provided lots of refreshments for attendees, while photographer Andy Davies captured the day through his lens. Once the rain and wind had calmed down, the day’s activities kicked off with visitors exploring the dunes with site warden Ben Sampson.
After wrapping the sculpture in a bow, we were joined by visitors and special guests for the official unveiling. Proceedings began with a short speech from Professor Charles Hipkin, who reflected on the significance of this special place both ecologically and to him personally.
With the rain at bay Ai-Lin Kee of Nature On Your Doorstep introduced visitors to the pollinators of the dunes, highlighting the work of the B-Lines project.
Visitors checked out the range of habitats found at Crymlyn Burrows with Ben Sampson (Swansea University) and discovering birds, mammals, fungi, amphibians, a rich diversity of coastal plants and the work being undertaken at the site to rejuvenate the space for local wildlife. Credit: Dynamic Dunescapes / Andy Davies Photography and video
Our VIP guests pulling the ribbon to formally celebrate the installation! L-R Prof Charles Hipkin (Neath Port Talbot Local Nature Partnership), Martyn Evans (NRW), Eifion Thomas (JET Blacksmith), Penny Neyland (Swansea University) and our very own Lizzie Wilberforce! Credit: Dynamic Dunescapes / Andy Davies Photography and video
Sculpture in a ribbon/ribbon cutting; Credit: Dynamic Dunescapes / Andy Davies Photography and video
As well as bees, butterflies and moths, visitors were also treated to up-close views of colour-changing flower crab spiders, grasshoppers and more as they explored with Ai-Lin Kee. Credit: Dynamic Dunescapes / Andy Davies Photography and video
We’re thrilled to be able to share with visitors the story of the sculpture as well as the installation itself, which will be there to be enjoyed by all for many years to come. We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the landowners of Crymlyn Burrows, St Modwen, in bringing this project to life.
Stay tuned for more as the second sister sculpture is set to be installed elsewhere on site. To stay up to date, be sure to follow Sustainability at Swansea University on social media, and if you visit don’t forget to tag us in your photos!
Plantlife‘s work through Dynamic Dunescapes is supporting conservation action in England and Wales to improve the condition of sand dunes.
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).
Grasslands in Wales are facing increasing threats – from development to pollution and damaging farming practices – and Plantlife is working to create positive change.
This 3-year partnership project will strive to recover the condition of some of our most important places for grassland habitats.
The grasslands we will be working on are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and Important Plant Areas, or Important Fungus Areas, where their condition is poor or currently unknown.
We will also work with farmers and other landowners on land close to these important sites, to help protect the special habitats by creating more wildlife-friendly environments around them.
We will be doing this work in partnership with North Wales Wildlife Trust and PONT.
Semi-natural grasslands now only occupy about 9% of Wales. In contrast, species-poor agricultural grasslands cover more than 1 million hectares, over half our land area. This is a relatively recent phenomenon; our semi-natural grasslands declined by over 90% during the 20th century.
We can see that even our SSSIs, our most important and protected wildlife-rich grasslands – have not fared well. When they were assessed by Natural Resources Wales in 2020, a third of protected features were in unfavourable condition. The condition of half was unknown.
Meanwhile over 40% of our threatened Welsh wild flowers are found in meadow and pasture habitats.
The need for us to act is clear, and through Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn we hope to recover the condition of some of our most important places for grassland habitats in Wales.
The project focuses on important grassland habitats. However, there are many different types of grassland in Wales. We expect to be working on a range of these and here are just some examples:
Meadow habitat is very threatened in Wales, with long-term declines in hay making, and re-seeding of cropped fields with ryegrass. We will support positive management of remaining meadows, and promote the value of species-rich meadows for farming and grazing livestock as well as conservation.
Rhôs pasture is a distinctive feature of the Welsh countryside. This damp grassland is often dominated by rushes and tall plants of Purple Moor-grass, and is home to a great number of other species too. The habitat has become threatened in Wales due to development, agricultural intensification, and in some places transition to scrub as farms abandon land of this type.
Ancient grassland can encompass a range of habitats. The feature they share is a long history of grassland management without ploughing, or other major agricultural impacts. If they have been heavily grazed, they may not be that botanically diverse.
However, if they have been kept short by mowing or grazing, their undisturbed soils can still be incredibly important for fungi. Despite being only 10% of the area of Great Britain, Wales is home to 55% of British grassland fungi. We hope to promote awareness and better protection of these fungal communities and the ancient grasslands where they occur.
As the project develops, we hope to have a range of volunteering opportunities. We will be looking for people who can:
We would love to hear from anyone interested in volunteering for Glaswelltiroedd Gwydn. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details, or follow the instructions to take part in our waxcap surveys.
Plantlife created the Waxcap Watch to make it easy for people to get involved with waxcap recording. You don’t need to be able to identify species – just their colours.
The information this provides will help the project assess the value of grasslands across Wales for these important fungi. On Resilient Grassland project sites, this will also help us get the grassland management right. But data from anywhere in Wales is valuable, to help us find new, important places for these overlooked species and protect them for the future
Take part today
The Nature Networks Fund is funded by the Welsh Government and delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural Resources Wales.
Plantlife and our partners are calling on the UK Government to prioritise grasslands and commit to developing a Grassland Action Plan for England.
From mountain pastures to floodplain meadows, grasslands cover more than 40% of land in the UK.
They are a huge natural asset; vital for nature and people to thrive, for food production, and to combat climate change.
The true value of grasslands has been overlooked by successive governments in the UK.
The majority of our ancient wildlife-rich grasslands have been destroyed and they are now among the UK’s rarest habitats – with losses continuing today. Over-fertilised and monoculture fields now dominate our landscape, providing few benefits for nature, people or our climate.
It’s time for real action to make the most of our grasslands.
This would help to achieve national and international climate and nature targets, by driving the restoration, appropriate management, and creation of wildlife-rich grasslands, connected across the landscape.
Grasslands can provide many incredible ecosystem services and benefits – such as supporting wildlife, storing carbon, providing clean air and water, and producing nutritious food – but they could be doing so much more.
To unlock the benefits of grasslands, a new approach is needed. We’re calling on governments in the UK to make the most of our grasslands.
This briefing covers how Plantlife and its partners are calling on the UK Government to make the most of grasslands and commit to developing a Grassland Action Plan for England’
This briefing highlights the value of grasslands as stable carbon stores in order to make the case for action by policy makers, researchers and land managers to protect these grasslands.
A review of the extent of semi-natural and/or species-rich grasslands in the UK, exploring trends overtime and between nations.
This report offers a review of existing literature and evidence on the numerous advantages associated with species-rich grasslands.
Different types of grasslands, such as meadows and parks, can be full of wildflowers and fungi, benefitting people, nature and climate.
Discover the wealth of benefits provided by these biodiverse habitats and why we need to take action to make the most of our grasslands.
If your organisation would like to support this important call out please contact Jo.Riggall@plantlife.org.uk
Drive positive change for your local wildlife and local communities with Plantlife's LNRS Local Nature Recovery Strategy guidance.
Since the 1930s, 97% of wildflower meadows across England and Wales have disappeared – and we're creating positive change.
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.