James borrell is a conservation scientist and science communicator, with a particular interest in how species adapt to changing climate.

Citizen Science #5: Wildflower Count

Now entering its fourth year, the annual Plantlife wildflowers count survey is carried out by volunteers across the country. The data they collect will become part of a hugely valuable long term data set helping to monitor the trends of our wild plants over the years to come.

Even the nerdy among you will have to admit that wildflowers don’t quite have the same charisma as the big megafauna, and I won’t resort to extolling the importance of them in our ecosystems (even though they are really really important: e.g. bees!).

The simple fact is that counting flowers sounds whimsical, but essentially boring. That is until you give it a go and start telling your Cow Parsley from your Hemlock; Great Willowherb from your Indian Balsam; discover the mouthful that is the Common Birds’-foot-trefoil or the elegant Lords-and-Ladies.

Here’s how to get involved…

Things You Can Do:

  • Wildflowers Path – Walk a 1km path noting flowers along the way.
  • Wildflowers Plots – Survey a plot near your area.
  • Be a super-surveyor – For veteran plant counters!

More details on the Plantlife website…

Things You Get:

  • Guidance notes and survey sheets – Everything you need to know to get started – even if you’ve haven’t surveyed a thing in your entire life!
  • A snazzy Wildflower ID guide – with 99 common species that you might find on your survey (entirely free!)
  • There’s lots more resources online.

How To Get Started:

  • Register online! – Everything you need to do a survey sent to your door. Plantlife will pick out a suitable area near your home and send you a small map. It’s amazing what hidden wild areas you can discover just a short walk from your house.
  • When you’re done, you can enter your results online (and sit back with that warm glow of satisfaction).

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Plantlife Updates…

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Other Useful Resources…

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Aspiring conservationist? Interested in expeditions and adventure? Browse some resources that might be useful…

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Useful nuggets of information in no particular order…

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Articles from field scientists describing the reality of working in remote and challenging conditions around the world, with tips for aspiring conservationists…