Volunteers are being sought to monitor wild flower and plant populations across Northern Ireland.
The National Plant Monitoring Scheme is an important UK-wide survey to assess habitats and ecosystems, as well as species and diversity.
Lorna Somerville from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) explained: “Thanks to volunteers, we have a very good understanding of changes in the populations of birds, butterflies and bats. However, plants are the foundation of habitats and ecosystems, yet currently we do not have a good measure of changes in plant populations across the country.
“We’re hoping to change this, and are seeking volunteers to help create a detailed record of wild flowers and plants across Northern Ireland.”
The survey – which takes place from April to September – will look at specific areas across the country.
Lorna added: “Across Northern Ireland, a total of 115 squares, measuring one kilometre by one kilometre, have been randomly selected. These represent all types of terrain and habitats. We’re asking for volunteers to select a square near them to monitor. If there are currently no suitable squares, you can register on the website and get notified when a square becomes available in your area.
“Volunteers will be provided with a survey pack. This will include a list of common species found in each habitat and an easy to use species identification guide, based on flower colour.
“You don’t have to be a botanist to volunteer,” Lorna explained. “Other than being able to cover the ground, no special skills are required. All the information you need will be provided and you will be guided through the process.
“Once surveyed, this information will give us a detailed picture of a key aspect of our flora. This is a real chance to make a difference and help the nationwide effort to catalogue our natural resources.”
For more information, to find out which squares are available near you, or to sign up as a volunteer, log on to the National Plant Monitoring Scheme website.
Notes to editors:
- Picture caption: Budding volunteers required for wild flower survey. Pauline Campbell from the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR) and Lorna Somerville from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency appeal for volunteers to help chart wild flowers and plants across Northern Ireland. More information is available from the National Plant Monitoring Scheme website.
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