Lorna Somerville is currently a National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) mentor in Northern Ireland. Lorna started working for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in 2005 and worked on the Northern Ireland Countryside Survey 2007 and later, in 2015, she started overseeing the NPMS. Shortly after Lorna became an NPMS mentor, and described it as a ‘natural progression’ because she was overseeing the scheme.
At the start of autumn 2019, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) appointed a new scientific officer who will oversee the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) in Northern Ireland; Abigail Maiden.
Can you tell us about yourself – what were you doing before you came to the DAERA?
Summer is here and wildflowers have bloomed and for hundreds of plant-lovers across the UK, it has been other busy season conducting surveys for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS). This habitat-based plant monitoring scheme which aims to collect data to help us understand more about how our wild flower populations are changing year on year.
Spring is bursting all over, bolstered by the warmest February on record. Heralding longer days outside (perfect for surveying), blossom on trees and the return of colour and scent to our woodlands and verges.
On the first day of spring, initial findings from woodlands surveyed over four years as part of the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) show that the highly invasive, non-native Himalayan Balsam is reported more frequently than native wild flowers such as bugle, ramsons and woodruff.
We're back in the office after our 2017 series of training days in Scotland for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS), held in Dumfriesshire, Perthshire and the Cairngorms.
Here is a flavour of what was involved at the training days this year...
The morning session at each training day includes the background to the NPMS survey and what is involved in taking part. In small groups we look at example survey maps, to see how to find out what habitats are present, and how to choose where to locate small plots in which to record the NPMS wild flowers.
It has been a fantastic second year for the NPMS. We’ve pulled in some great numbers:
It's a mild day in May as we approach our designated square - a lovely location on the edge of the New Forest where woodland edges on to open fields. The survey is habitat based and our map suggests we have two key habitats to look out for – broadleaved woodland and lowland grassland. So far so good. The guidance notes and advice on the website suggest that recommend a visit to your site beforehand, but we have a fair idea of our site, passing it regularly to and from work.