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Mountain plant hunters

Thursday 13th July 2017, 4:16pm

Hill walkers are being sought for their expertise to help with a national wild plant survey.

Organisers of the National Plant Monitoring Scheme are particularly looking for volunteers who can assist in surveying remote and higher altitude areas in Scotland, so that they can increase the coverage of the survey in habitats such as mountain grassland and heath, mountain springs/flushes, and rocks/scree where these can be safely accessed.

To help with the survey, volunteers have to visit the same site twice each year or alternate years, and record wild plants from an easy-to-identify list.

Volunteers choose their own square kilometre location from those available, and within that square kilometre they record the wild plants present in up to five small plots in different habitats. The wild plants in the survey list have been chosen to be easy to identify, and to be good indicators of habitat health. Those taking part will be finding out more about these fascinating habitats, and learning to identify and record plants such as saxifrages, Mountain Pansy, Mountain Everlasting and Alpine Lady’s-mantle.

The Survey is looking for volunteers all over Scotland, but particularly in the higher and remoter areas which are more easily accessible to hill walkers. The available survey squares can be seen on this map, and to sign up for the survey, volunteers should select a square then sign in and request it.

Volunteers will be given plenty resources to help them take part, including a full-colour wild plant identification guide, habitat map of their square, and instruction booklet, and there are also web-based resources, email and phone support, and optional training days at locations around Scotland each year.

The National Plant Monitoring Scheme is now in its third year, and is a partnership between the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI), the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and Plantlife. Last year over 200 squares were surveyed by volunteers around Scotland, a 35% increase over the previous year. Many of the volunteers who signed up to the NPMS were new to plant surveying and found the scheme accessible and enjoyable to take part in.

For more about the survey (including PDFs of the survey booklets) or to sign up, go to www.npms.org.uk

Sundew - a carnivorous bog plant. Photo by Neil Reid