Rare Plant Project Ireland

The Rare Plant Project Ireland (RPPI) is a three-year initiative to learn more about Irish Red List plant species. It uses a similar population monitoring approach as the Irish Species Project and the Threatened Plant Project.

Aims

  1. To resurvey populations of Irish Red List plant species not recorded since 2000 – despite over 20 years of intensive survey effort for Atlas 2020
  2. To collect information that will inform future national and local status assessments (e.g., County Rare Plant Registers) and improve our understanding of their ecology and reasons for decline.

Project Video

This talk on the Rare Plant Project in Ireland, given at the Irish Spring Conference in March gives a good overview of the project and includes interesting case studies.

Key points

  • Search for Irish Red Data List populations in 10 km squares (hectads) where they have not been recorded since 2000
  • Focus on particular hectads with clusters of such records
  • Aim to visit at least one hectad in each county in each year…
  • To try to refind and record the target populations in it…
  • Collecting information on a standard recording form…
  • Involving local members and groups
  • Data entry will be done centrally

Which species?

We’d like you to target plant species in one of the top five categories of the Irish Red List. You can see a full list of the species in the BSBI Database – click the “Items” tab then the “Taxon” or “Data” headers to sort; or download, as you prefer. Here is a summary:

Irish Red List Category Abbreviation Number of species
Regionally Extinct RE 15
Critically Endangered CR 20
Endangered EN 25
Vulnerable VU 61
Near Threatened NT 98
Total 219

Which squares?

We would like County Recorders to used the BSBI Database to identify their own target squares and species. To do that:

  1. login to the BSBI Database then
  2. click this Database query,
  3. change the County to theirs (in both parts of the query),
  4. run the query by clicking “display results” and then wait for the results and
  5. Then save the BSBI Database page with the query, as a favourite in your internet browser, giving at a memorable name like “RRPI”

To go back to it easily, click that favourite in your browser, then:

  1. If you click the ‘Number of taxa specified in the query’ header twice that will sort them from highest to lowest.
  2. Then click the actual numbers alongside any 10km square grid reference to see the target species records in that particular hectad to refind.

Detailed Records

We would like you to collect much more than just present / absence information, by using a special RPPI recording form which asks for detailed information on population size, extent, habitat, associated species, as well as management and threats and more. There is guidance on completing the recording form. We have indicated the minimum set of fields that you should complete by making the field titles blue and bold - which might be easier for members who'd like to get involved.

Negative records

Where surveyors fail to find the target species, we would really them to complete the form – at least as far as the “Not refound” section saying why it was not refound. These negative records can be even more informative than positive finds, especially where it's difficult to understand the reasons for decline.

Preparation

It is really important that you go out into the field well prepared after:

  • Reading the detailed guidance
  • careful analysis of records in the BSBI Database - which County Recorders can download and supply to local botanists / groups
  • searches of any paper records, floras & checklists, where available, and after
  • buffing up on the target species on BSBI species accounts; the accounts in the Online Atlas of the British & Irish Flora and in identification books!

Equipment

You’ll need your handlens, GPS & spare batteries, camera, recording cards, pencils and clipboard - Weatherwriter, or clipboard and plastic covering bag.

Involving local members - and non-members

This is the perfect project for local members - and non-member - botanists to become involved with, either individually, in small informal groups or in recognised ‘Local Groups’. But it is essential they liaise with County Recorders first. By involving local botanists, County Recorders can share the load, cover more hectads - and provide interesting ID and recording learning opportunities!

Local Hectads

If you select a hectad that is local to you or others who would like to be involved, that will help minimise the project’s carbon footprint.

Safety in the field

Everyone should read this guidance on Safety in the field before taking part. Note that, as always, BSBI volunteers participate in our projects at their own risk.

Ajuga pyramidalis