Plants are the foundation of our habitats and ecosystems. Unlike other species groups that have been monitored by naturalists at small scale for many years, we have previously been lacking a good measure of changes in plant populations across the country. Understanding the effects of growing pressures on our wild plants, populations and habitats is a big task, but the growing NPMS dataset is starting to allow us to investigate these impacts.
The National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) is a volunteer recording programme involving keen amateurs with varying levels of botanical expertise. Each participant chooses a 1 km square from the available randomly selected set. Within this square, volunteers record either all species, or sets of habitat-specific indicator species (depending on their level of experience), in around five plots in semi-natural habitats. Volunteers aim to complete two surveys each year.
The National Plant Monitoring Scheme complements existing abundance-focused recording schemes, including those for the UK’s birds and butterflies, and helps us to understand more about how the countryside is changing.
NPMS project partners are: Plantlife, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Northern Ireland), and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.