Wednesday, 8 June 2016

National Plant Monitoring Scheme: Pete Stroh's plots

Bur Chervil in Hunts.
Image: Pete Stroh
Are you out surveying any plots this year for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, or the NPMS as it's known to it's friends?

BSBI Scientific Officer Pete Stroh (of England Red List fame) emailed to say that he was "out recording my NPMS square yesterday and found lots of Bur Chervil Anthriscus caucalis and Shepherd's-needle Scandix pecten-veneris on a walk between two of my NPMS plots. 

"The former is rare in the county [Ed.: Pete was out near Little Saughton, Huntingdonshire]; the latter is extremely rare - this is the first county record since 2001 and in a new grid square for the species!"

Shepherd's-needle in Hunts.
Image: Pete Stroh
If you are recording for the NPMS this year, please send us photos of the plants you are seeing (either in your plots or walking between them) and if it's your second year of monitoring your plots, why not let us know how you are getting on with your repeat surveys? 

If you haven't yet signed up for the NPMS, you can find out more here and don't worry if you can't identify the rare plants that Pete spotted - you can opt to do the NPMS survey at three different levels, so you can still take part, even if you can only identify a few easy plants. And you get a really helpful free ID key to help you do this! 

In case Pete's happy finds give you the wrong idea - the purpose of the NPMS isn't to find rarities, it's to get a clearer idea of how habitats and plant distributions are changing across the country, warts and all. 

Shepherd's-needle in Hunts.
Image: Pete Stroh
Some people who usually do their plant-spotting in well-managed, floriferous nature reserves have complained that their squares lack any species-rich habitat in which to set up plots; others have struggled, once plots are marked out, to find more than half a dozen wildflowers from the list of indicator species.  

But every plot surveyed will help us build up a clearer picture of how our wider countryside is changing - and if populations of once-familiar wildflowers really are in decline across the country, then data collected by thousands of members of the public will, for the first time, provide incontrovertible and much-needed evidence of this. 

So please take a look at our NPMS page here to find out more about why the scheme is so important, how easy it is to take part and how much help and support you get, from local mentors to videos explaining how to set up your survey plots. Then, if you'd like to receive a survey pack and browse the interactive map to find a square near you, it only takes a minute to register your interest.