Climate change blamed for declines in mountain plants
Climate change has likely led to the decline of some of Scotland’s mountain plants, according to new research.

Scientists said many of the species relied on snow cover remaining high on hills until late spring and even summer to ensure a moist environment. They also said plants that thrived on lower ground in warmer conditions were spreading to mountain habitats. Species found to be in decline include snow pearlwort, alpine lady-fern and alpine speedwell.
The research by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) has taken 20 years to complete and has been published in the new Plant Atlas.
Data used to produce the report included more than three million plant records of 2,555 species collected by hundreds of botanists across Scotland. Climate change, habitat loss and the spread of non-native species were found to key threats to the health of British and Irish native plants. BSBI said devastating losses of species in Scotland were among the findings.
Almost the entire British population of snow pearlwort is found on Ben Lawers, but half of the Perthshire mountain’s known colonies have disappeared over the last 40 years.
The research also suggested there had been a loss of meadow plants since the 1950s due to the use of nitrogen fertilisers and damp fields being drained. Peatbog and moorland were other habitats deemed to be at threat – particularly from the spread of Sitka spruce, a non-native tree.
Matt Harding, BSBI’s Scotland officer, said: “Sitka spruce had the greatest increase in range of any species covered by Plant Atlas 2020. “Its ability to regenerate successfully on peaty soils that are vital for native biodiversity and carbon sequestration means that future planting will need to be carefully managed to ensure that these important peatland habitats are protected.”
BSBI chief executive Julia Hanmer said: “Plant Atlas 2020 presents a powerful and concerning insight into the changing distributions of our wild plants.”

Last summer, University of Stirling researchers said climate change had pushed Scotland’s rare arctic-alpine plants to the brink of extinction.
Snow pearlwort, drooping saxifrage and mountain sandwort – which thrive in cool, high-altitude conditions – were found to be retreating higher up slopes. The researchers said the species were at risk of eventually running out of anywhere to grow and would disappear.
Higher temperatures, reduced snow cover and lowland plants were identified as threats.

Image credits: Sarah Watts.

Bid to save Cairngorms plant life from extinction

Conservationists are to try to save wildflower meadows, rare pinewood plants and arctic alpine flora from dying out in the Cairngorms.

Species such as twinflower, which has tiny, pink, bell-shaped flowers, are on the verge of extinction in the area.
One-flowered wintergreen – one of Scotland’s rarest pinewood flowers – is also at risk.
Plantlife Scotland is leading a four-year project to boost meadows and establish new twinflower populations.

It also hopes to introduce wintergreen to two new sites and work with landowners to protect grasslands containing rare waxcap fungi.
Another project objective is to develop technology to monitor and understand the impact of climate change on fragile mountain-top habitats.


Top image: The Cairngorms are home to rare mountain plants.
Bottom Image: Twinflower is on the verge of extinction in the area.
Image Credits –  PlantLife/PA Wire

The Cairngorms are home to rare mountain plantlife
Scottish Natural Heritage and the Cairngorms National Park Authority are supporting the initiative and funding has been provided from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Plantlife’s Gwenda Diack said it was hoped the wider public would take an interest in the conservation effort.
She said: “We want people to re-connect with the rich wild plant heritage of this truly special part of Scotland, whether through the rekindling of wild plant folklore, celebrating current uses or taking action to help save rare plants.

“The Rare Plants and Wild Connections project will harness the power of citizen science and our love for the Cairngorms to restore and protect some of the rare plants and fungi of our pinewoods, meadows and mountains.”

NNSS are pleased to announce the publication of the refreshed Great Britain Invasive Non-Native Species Strategy (2023 to 2030).
The Strategy is available on the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website.
The refreshed Strategy provides a framework within which the actions of Defra, Scottish Government and Welsh Government, our agencies and external partners can be better co-ordinated to deliver the most effective response to preventing, eradicating and managing invasive non-native species. It aims to take greater account of the increased risks posed by invasive non-native species as a result of climate change.
An independent review of the existing 2015 Strategy was commissioned in 2020. The findings of this review, which were published in January 2021, have informed the development of the refreshed Strategy. The overarching aim of the Strategy is to minimise the risk of introduction and establishment and reduce the negative impacts of invasive non-native species in GB through a strong partnership approach. This Strategy continues to follow the CBD hierarchical approach, which emphasises prevention, followed by early detection and rapid response, and finally long-term management and control.
An implementation plan will be put in place in order to identify key leads and contributors for the delivery of each key action and to help monitor delivery and review success in achieving the key outcomes.