Sunday 18 January 2015

New Year Plant Hunt: taking the next steps?

Plant Hunt co-founder Dr Tim Rich & Smooth Hawksbeard
flowering in Cardiff last week.
Image: C. Gait
Today's Telegraph has a list of 13 Reasons to be Cheerful and top of the list is this note on the 368 species we recorded in flower during the New Year Plant Hunt

Another nice mention for BSBI in the national press!

The New Year Plant Hunt has certainly put BSBI and botany in the spotlight, and we are hoping that some of the people who took part this year for the first time will join us on a BSBI field meeting this year and will check the interactive map here to see what's going on in their local patch.

Trialling survey methods for NPMS.
Kevin Walker (BSBI Head of Science) on right.
Pete Stroh (BSBI Scientific Officer) in red.
Image: M. Pocock 
We also hope that people will consider signing up for the new National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS). Due to launch in March, this is a ground-breaking new partnership between BSBI, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, JNCC and Plantlife

Plantlife have set up this interim page so you can register now and find out more while we are setting up the new website for you. 

I asked Oli Pescott, one of this year's Plant Hunters who also works as a botanist at CEH and has been involved in setting up this new scheme, to tell us more. Oli gave a presentation about the NPMS at the BSBI Annual Exhibition Meeting in November and you can download his presentation from this page.

Oli said "The National Plant Monitoring Scheme is really gearing up for launch now, and I’m told by our colleagues at Plantlife that over 700 people have already registered! I think the NPMS will be a great scheme for those who have already got their feet wet (possibly literally?) recording plants on the New Year Plant Hunt. 

Volunteers test-run the various methods
Image: M. Pocock
"The results of my Plant Hunt this New Year were on the low side (17 plants flowering), but even from that small number obvious patterns emerged on my patch, with garden escapes like Yellow Corydalis, Greater Periwinkle and Sweet Alison flowering in walls, alleys and pavements in my village, and very little with flowers in the surrounding fields. A suggestive illustration of the combined effects of non-native plants or varieties and warm urban microclimates  across the landscape. 

"We hope that participation in the NPMS creates a similar opportunity for people to monitor a local patch thoroughly. The idea is that you survey around 5 plots in a 1x1 km square (randomly assigned by the scheme). 

"Your records will allow scientists to get an overall picture of what is happening to plants at the habitat scale across the UK. 

Oli in blue; Felicity from Plantlife in stripes;
Bob Ellis (BSBI Projects Officer) pointing
Image: M. Pocock 
"The random element is important to ensure that the results are not heavily biased by surveyors visiting their favourite spots, and is similar to the strategy used by the Wider Countryside Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. This means that it’s important to get in quick to secure a 1x1 km square to survey near you!” 

It certainly is! Oli and I have both registered for our squares and the four partner organisations are working really hard to get everything ready for the launch in March. 

We are also making sure that you will have all the help and support you need to go out recording wild plants, even if you are an absolute beginner at botany! 

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