Volunteer botanists contribute to first ever annual UK habitat condition indicator!

Submitted by olipescott on

Today the Defra/JNCC UK Biodiversity Indicators are published, providing an annual view of how a variety of groups of wildlife, and other indicators of action for biodiversity conservation, have fared across the UK in recent years. The 2020 launch includes something extra special for National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) volunteers, because it marks the first ever contribution of NPMS data to a national biodiversity indicator!

Specifically, NPMS data from four of the scheme’s best surveyed broad habitats have been used to create a new indicator for category C7 “Plants of the wider countryside”. The habitats included are:

  • Arable margins
  • Broadleaved woodland and hedges
  • Bog and wet heath
  • Lowland grassland

The indicator is still classified as an ‘experimental’ indicator, and future work is expected as detailed in the technical documentation published by JNCC today. However, getting to this point in only six years of field surveys highlights the incredible dedication of NPMS volunteers in getting out into the countryside, and establishing and surveying habitat plots in order for us to understand changes to our environment.

To learn more about why today’s UK Biodiversity Indicator release is so important, and how the new NPMS indicator of the abundance of plants in habitats is a crucial step forward, head over to Dr Trevor Dines’ new blog on NPMS partner Plantlife’s website here.

Since its beginning in 2015, over 1500 National Plant Monitoring Scheme volunteers have been establishing and monitoring habitat plots throughout the countryside every year. This has resulted in over 16,000 habitat samples containing well over 150,000 plant records, not to mention information on land management and photos of plots, all spread across Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. The maps below demonstrate the incredible spread of NPMS habitat plots that have contributed to the new indicators.

The National Plant Monitoring Scheme is a project run by a partnership of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Plantlife, and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.