Legion of citizen scientists to work with leading conservationists in Cairngorms - Plantlife

© Laurie Campbell
© Laurie Campbell

A new ambitious 4-year project led by Plantlife Scotland, supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Cairngorms National Park Authority and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is looking to channel people’s love of the Cairngorms to help save wildflower meadows, rare pinewood plants and arctic alpine flora of the internationally important Cairngorms.

The unique wild flora of the UK’s largest national park is severely threatened by habitat loss and climate change. Action will be taken for:

Rare and beautiful Caledonian pinewood plant species such as the elusive one flowered wintergreen – one of our rarest pinewood flowers, and the fairy like twinflower (pictured above), beloved for its tiny, pink, bell shaped flowers. The remaining isolated populations of these species are now on the verge of extinction, struggling to produce seed for future generations. These species will be the focus of the most dramatic translocation work to bolster populations and increase genetic diversity.

The mountain habitats of the Cairngorms are home to the most arctic alpine vegetation found in the UK, including extensive areas of arctic-boreal heaths in Britain, rich in cloudberry, reindeer lichen and bearberry. These hardiest of species shelter in snow-beds – at the edge of their natural range, and with nowhere left to go, they act as an indicator of climate change. Monitoring these species using new technology will help scientists understand the pressures on this fast-changing habitat from climate change and atmospheric pollution.

Cairngorms few remaining wildflower-rich acid grasslands are often overlooked and ailing but can support a myriad of wildflowers such as heath bedstraw, tormentil, devil’s bit scabious and harebell, whilst remnants of unimproved grasslands can sport colourful and rare waxcap fungi and the upland hay meadows are home to sweet vernal grass, wood cranesbill and melancholy thistle.

Our ambitions are to...

Plantlife’s Gwenda Diack, project manager, said “We want people to re-connect with the rich wild plant heritage of this truly special part of Scotland, whether through the rekindling of wild plant folklore, celebrating current uses or taking action to help save rare plants.The Rare Plants and Wild Connections project will harness the power of citizen science and our love for the Cairngorms to restore and protect some of the rare plants and fungi of our pinewoods, meadows and mountains”.

Posted on: 18 August 2020

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