PlantLife Scotland

Plantlife Scotland co-ordinate the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) in Scotland, and are looking for volunteers in Orkney. The NPMS is a new UK-wide plant monitoring scheme designed to build up data on habitat health. It is organised and funded by a partnership of the BSBI, Plantlife, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the JNCC. Anyone interested in nature who can identify plants, or who is keen to learn, can take part. Volunteers adopt a kilometre square and survey small plots within this kilometre. Plantlife occasionally has opportunities for Flora Guardian volunteers but there are none currently in Orkney.

Current opportunities

Waxcaps will be resurveyed again later this year, looking for those poorly understood undisturbed grassland loving mushrooms again. This is independent voluntary activity with folks going out with an app or other survey stuff and recording any waxcapps they see within the Cairngorms National Park for us. Please contact us for more information if this interests you.

Twinflower and one-flowered wintergreen translocations: The intent is to help recovery of these 2 endangered pinewoods species by takings cuttings/plug plants and introducing them to new/currently occupied but struggling sites to help improve health of small isolated patchy populations. We’re well into this work now, having collected and grown on many twinflower cuttings already and surveyed one-flowered wintergreen sites. This summer we’ll be working with volunteers to complete our surveys and planning for reintroductions of both species. Then in Autumn, the hope is that we will be planting out cuttings of twinflower and perhaps also one-flowered wintergreen plants at some of the identified sites with volunteers.

We are hoping to improve our understanding of mountaintop habitats while involving people in the process. The fungal DNA munro survey was really successful last year, and there is ambition to repeat and expand that this year, so there should be plenty of opportunity for keen walkers to volunteer for that again. We are also tentatively looking to design a mountain habitat assessment app, which will allow anyone who is walking in the mountains to provide useful scientific data on these understudied environments. Still early in development, but we may need volunteers to help test later in summer.

We’re working with farmers, the national park, pastures for life, and nature friendly farming network, to trial a new grazing technique in the Spey valley. Very briefly, by concentrating grazing stock and moving them every few days, the sward should ideally have a chance to recover well and mature, reaching flowering and seed setting before being grazed again, which will ideally improve meadow diversity and health. Our part is to facilitate volunteer surveying of these meadows for at least this and next years to monitor the changes that come because of the new technique. So, we’re training volunteer up in meadow species ID and grassland habitat assessment and then partnering them up with farms to perform habitat surveys over several sessions in the summer months. Our training day for this is booked for the 3rd of June, with surveys likely to commence into August.