Grant to help Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland print first Atlas of Plants in 20 years

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The Naturesave Trust has donated £2,500 towards the publication of the first comprehensive Atlas of Plants in Britain and Ireland for 20 years.

The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s (BSBI) Atlas 2020 project will produce online and printed outputs mapping the distribution of around 1,600 native plants and an equal number of non-natives found growing wild in the UK and Ireland. Using 60 years of comparative data, the Atlas will demonstrate how these distributions have changed over time, underpinned by over 25 million plant records collected by our network of botanical recorders between 2000 and 2019. Records include species identified, grid reference, location, date, stage (e.g. flowering), habitat, and abundance, and have been verified and analysed by BSBI’s Science Unit, in collaboration with the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

This comprehensive survey, interpretation and analysis will: 

  • Contribute towards the next Red List for Great Britain, determining which species are most threatened and identify which most need conservation at both national and local levels.
  • Identify the main threats to species and therefore what policies need to be put in place to protect them.
  • Identify which non-native species are increasing and therefore help to identify those that may require control/eradication/regulation in the future.
  • Quantify the success of conservation and environmental policy from the past 20 years.
  • Provide vital information on where species occur that can be used for conservation, development control, targeting agri-environment schemes, etc.
  • Provide a baseline from which future changes can be measured.

BSBI’s data is used by decision makers, landowners and managers such as Natural England, NatureScot, Natural Resources Wales, Joint Nature Conservancy Council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the National Trust; as well as a host of NGOs, universities, individuals and others, to decide how to protect wildlife. 

The grant from the Naturesave Trust will directly support the costs of publishing the Atlas, making this information available for use by amateurs and experts alike, for the benefit of wild plants.

BSBI Head of Science, Kevin Walker, says “The first Atlas of the British Flora, published by BSBI in 1962, was pioneering in its design and hugely influential, leading to the first Red Data List for Great Britain and establishing the methods used to map plants and animals across Europe and North America. The second Atlas, published in 2002, contributed to widescale changes in conservation thinking and policy, including a greater emphasis on threat in plant conservation, regulations over the sale of invasive non-native species, and government commitments to reduce damage from pollution and climate change. Now that the world’s focus is even more centered on the future of our environment, such comprehensive data as provided by Atlas 2020 will be fundamental to combating the biodiversity crisis.”

Julia Hanmer, CEO of the BSBI, says “this grant from the Naturesave Trust represents a fantastic investment in maximising the impact of Atlas 2020 for nature, communities and all those volunteers involved in the recording and data that underpins it. Given Naturesave Insurance’s commitment to supporting environmental projects, we thank them for their commitment to widening Atlas 2020’s impact, leading to long and short-term change across environmental policy.”

The Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland, founded in 1836, is the biggest and most active organisation devoted to the study of wild plants in Britain, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.