Plantlife projects

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The BBS is currently working with Plantlife on conservation projects involving Atlantic woodlands. These woodlands – also known as Celtic rainforest, or temperate rainforest – are atmospheric, humid woodlands with high rainfall, found along the west coast of the UK and in Ireland. Because of their high humidity they are home to a luxuriant array of bryophytes, and the BBS are involved with training people interested in learning more about bryophytes, with a view to increasing the level of recording in these areas.

You can read more about the conservation work that Plantlife are doing on their website https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/our-work/conservation-projects.

Building Resilience in South West Woodlands

With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Building Resilience is working in the Atlantic woodlands of Devon, Somerset and Cornwall.

Atlantic woodlands are one of Britain and Ireland’s most important habitats and, like any rainforest, are home to a vast diversity of plant life including oddities like the “string-of-sausages” lichen Usnea articulata and Stictas, a stinky lichen that smells of fish!

These woods have inspired generations of writers, poets and painters including Wordsworth and Coleridge. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded Plantlife £433,700 to deliver the project over three and a half years from November 2018.

Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) are small plants that are easily overlooked. Many of us enjoy the bright green carpets they form on trees and boulders, but never think much more about them. However, if you take a close look (and you know what to look for) a diverse and fascinating world is revealed. Bryophytes are a very rewarding group of plants to study, as the UK is home to over half of all Europe’s bryophyte species, and the bryophyte diversity of the south-west’s woods rival the cloud forests of the tropics.

Progress of the project in Cornwall (update October 2020)

Plantlife ran a 2-day foundation course focussed on Bryophytes in Spring 2019. 12 people were recruited from this course to go on to an advanced course which ran over several weeks starting in September 2019. The volunteers were an incredibly enthusiastic group and 11 people completed the course.

These volunteers are now being contacted to get involved in surveying local woodlands, to see if there are any Atlantic Woodland bryophyte species present.

The training was run by Plantlife in partnership with the British Bryological Society, as part of a 3.5 year project to protect and conserve the south-west’s internationally important temperate rainforests and their rare and threatened lichen and bryophyte species. The project is funded by National Lottery players through the Heritage Lottery Fund and is part of the Building Resilience in South West Woodlands project.

Progress of the project in Devon (update October 2020)

The original plan was to repeat the foundation course on Dartmoor in Spring 2020, and the training was over-subscribed. Unfortunately due to Coronavirus this had to be postponed.

The foundation course is now planned for October 2020, with a significant element online to reduce the risk of Covid-19. Again, volunteers will be recruited from this group to undertake the advanced training, if Covid-19 rules permit.

BBS members have been involved in developing the online foundation course material, and will no doubt be assisting with the advanced course if this is able to go ahead.

Plantlife have also written 2 guides to the management of Atlantic Woodlands. One of these is aimed at woodlands in the Lake District, and the second is for the slightly drier and warmer woodlands of the South West of England. These guides are available to download by clicking the links below:

Plantlife Lichens & Bryophytes of Atlantic Woodlands in the Lake District - A Guide for Woodland Managers Plantlife Lichens & Bryophytes of Atlantic Woodlands in South West England - A Guide for Woodland Managers

Looking Out for Small Things (LOST)

Update October 2020

Looking Out for the Small Things (LOST) was a partnership effort to further understand and appreciate Atlantic oakwoods, alongside the lower plants that can be found there. Plantlife and its partners provided a series of training events and additional opportunities to get involved, generating the knowledge and skillset required to record and manage these special habitats. You can find more information on the LOST project on the Plantlife website, at: www.plantlife.org.uk/LOST

The LOST project has now been completed, however the ID guides developed for the project are still available to download by clicking the links below:

Plantlife Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands in the Lake District (Lobarion) Plantlife Lichens of Atlantic Woodlands in the Lake District (Parmelion) Plantlife Mosses and liverworts of Atlantic Woodlands in the Lake District

For hard copies please contact Alastair Moralee by email at Alastair.moralee@plantlife.org.uk.