Azara Blog: Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain

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Date published: 2005/05/09

The BBC says:

Britain has made good progress in trying to preserve some of its rarest wild plants, but it has largely failed to halt widespread species decline.

That is one key message to come out of the new Vascular Plant Red Data List for Great Britain, published by a coalition of botanists.

The report represents the most comprehensive assessment to date of the state of the UK's flora.

Of 1,756 plant types, about 20% are currently threatened with extinction.

The analysis laments the near-disappearance from large areas of the country of arable "weeds", such as the prickly poppy.

This population of wild flowers that once proliferated in field margins has seen perhaps the steepest decline of all plant groups in the past 40 years.

They have been pushed out by highly intensive methods of crop production that give little opportunity for competing seeds to flourish on farmland.
Some botanists are hopeful that many plants currently classified as threatened can make strong returns under new agri-environment initiatives, such as the Entry-Level Stewardship scheme which pays farmers to restore habitats.

Conservation groups and agencies, too, are sponsoring more plant-friendly approaches to land management, including the re-flooding of drained wetlands and the re-introduction of gentle livestock grazing.

Nothing new here except for quantification (always worthwhile). But it seems that every generation thinks the attempts of previous generations vis-à-vis the environment are rubbish and that new initiatives are always needed to conserve (i.e. "save") the world. No doubt the next generation will think our methods are equally risible. And with global warming the environment is changing rather quickly, so Mother Nature will have other ideas than the botanists about which species will survive where.

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