Saturday, 14 February 2015

Plant recording in the Cairngorms

Tetrad map: botanical recording in the Cairngorms 2014
Courtesy of Andy Amphlett
Thanks to a partnership between BSBI and Cairngorms National Park Authority, thousands of wildflowers growing across the 4528 square kilometres of the Park have been recorded and mapped. 

Knowing what grows where is incredibly useful, whether you are one of the many visitors who come to the Park each year hoping to see some of the UK’s threatened wildlife species (25% make their home here) or one of the Park’s conservation managers, charged with maintaining the nature conservation value of the site. 

Andy & co carried out fine-scale recording
of plants like Teesdalia nudicaulis
Image: A. Amphlett
The Park stretches across five Local Authority areas from Laggan to Ballater, and Grantown to Killiecrankie, so Andy Amphlett, BSBI's County Recorder for Banffshire (vc94), recruited a crack team of seventeen botanists from across the region and in 2014 they spent a total of more than 80 days in the field.

Andy said “We managed to add more than 19,000 plant records to the Botanical Society’s Distribution Database, which now holds over 300,000 plant records for the Cairngorms area.  For each plant species, there are maps showing where that plant grows now and how its distribution has changed over the years. We make versions of these maps available free to view here and more detailed maps are available to policy-makers and conservation managers”.

BSBI is one of the world’s biggest contributors of biological records (almost 37 million at the last count), but we are always collecting more records to help us build up a clearer picture of what is happening to our wild flowers. Andy gratefully acknowledged both the contribution of his fellow botanical recorders and also the funding from Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), which facilitated “much more recording than could have been achieved otherwise”.

Recent tetrad map, courtesy of Andy Amphlett
Andy Ford, CNPA, said “This is an outstanding piece of work. 19,000 new records is an extraordinary effort from the BSBI volunteers and the contribution to our collective understanding of the Park is phenomenal. I cannot over-emphasise how delighted we are with the outcome of this partnership”.

Cairngorms National Park boasts five of the six highest mountains in Britain, as well as being home to 25% of the UK’s threatened wildlife species. Hopefully the wildlife, the staff and the thousands of visitors who visit the Park each year will all benefit from this greater understanding of the Park’s wildflowers, made possible by BSBI working in partnership with Cairngorms National Park Authority.