Thursday 28 March 2019

National Plant Monitoring Scheme: time to get involved?

Spring is in the air so this is a good time to remind you about the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS), to let you know what we've learned from the results so far and to give you a heads-up about the free resources and training opportunities available to everyone who registers to take part. 

Launched in 2015 as a partnership between BSBI, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Plantlife, surveys carried out so far have already thrown up some good news and some bad news about the wildflowers found in woodlands across the UK. 

If you've heard about the NPMS and have been weighing up whether or not it's right for you, here are a few things that might help you make up your mind:

NPMS training day showing people
 how to mark out a square to survey
Dr Kevin Walker, BSBI's Head of Science, was a key player in the setting up of the NPMS; Kevin said: "The great thing about this scheme is that it is inclusive to a wide range of volunteers at different levels of experience who are providing us with evidence of changes in our wild flower populations. It is a fantastic opportunity to develop botanical and field recording skills while contributing valuable data. It's just a great way for people to get involved in citizen science and learn more about our wild flowers".

There are three different levels at which you can record, so the NPMS is suitable for all botanists, whether you're just starting out or you're already an expert.

You get a lot of free resources when you register for the NPMS, so it's ideal if you are just  getting started with botany and want to develop your ID skills as quickly as possible but you don't have the budget or the time to buy lots of plant ID books or sign up for multiple training courses. NPMS surveyors receive a free illustrated plant ID book when they register, a set of species lists for each habitat, species ID crib, access to mentors across the UK who can help you if you get stuck, videos to help you survey...

There are also (free) training courses - 25 arranged so far and more in the pipeline, at locations from Cornwall to the Caledonian pine forests and from Kent to north Wales. Take a look.

For the more experienced botanist, the NPMS is a chance to put your botanical knowledge to good use, whether as a surveyor, contributing to a national citizen science scheme, or as a trainer or as a mentor, supporting the next generation of botanists.

Why not take a look and see if there is a survey square available near you? If there is, and you'd like to get involved, it only takes a few minutes to register. Why not make this the year when you become a national plant monitor?

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