In general, we have quite good knowledge on the distributions of rare native plants. However, in recent years it has become obvious to many botanists that the distribution and abundance of common plants is changing in the countryside. It is not clear what all the reasons for this are, but the usual suspects are climate change, eutrophication and land-use change.
The North-east has no standard data that can quantify the abundance or distribution of common plants. This is the reason we need a common plants survey.
How do we want to do this?
The idea is to subsample about 3% of the land area of South Northumberland and Durham in 1 km ×1 km Ordnance Survey squares over three years. From these results we will be able to produce maps predicting the distribution of common plants more accurately than we can now, but also estimate their abundance. In addition, the data will contribute to the BSBI’s national survey and we fully expect to find interesting new species and localities in this survey.
What do we want you to do?
- Pick a square from the map.
- Record all the species that you can identify confidently .
- Include, planted or sown plants where they are an important feature of the landscape, but make a note that they are planted.
- Try to visit the full range of habitats within the grid square.
- When you have finished surveying the square, assign a DAFOR letter to each species you found. The DAFOR scale is D = Dominant; A = Abundant, F = Frequent, O = Occasional, R = Rare. Click here for more details of this system
- Return the records either by post or email to the relevant Recorder.
If you have other questions you can read our frequently asked questions page or contact us directly.
Also note that...
- To make recording and digitisation easier there are various recording cards available.
- If you find anything rare or unusual please note its precise grid reference.
- If you take any photographes within the square I can add them to the website. They can be very useful for future reference
- If you have any problems either in the square or getting to it, let us know so we can warn others and/or remove this square from the survey.
- Take note of the BSBI's Code of Conduct and safety guidelines
- Some grid squares span Vice county boundaries. Notably along rivers such as the Coquet, Tyne and Derwent, but also on the watershed in the hills. Please record full lists on 2 separate cards in these squares, one card for each vice-county
- If you have time after recording in the 1km×1km grid square, can we suggest three options, either move on to another 1km×1km grid square in the neighbourhood; find a wood, bog or pond in the neighbourhood and record the plants it contains as a single site survey or make a survey of the 2km×2km grid square containing the smaller square. However, all these records should be kept separate from those of the 1km×1km grid square.
Help with Identification
Your Vice County Recorder can help with identification. Also, we are fortunate to have the BSBI beginner’s referees (John and Clare O’Reilly) in the region who are also happy to help check plants for the North-east Common Plants survey and you don’t have to be a complete beginner to use them. Preferably, specimens should be sent as soon as possible after collection in a plastic bag. However, dryed pressed specimens are also usually identifiable. The BSBI has a guide to collecting specimens on its website. The BSBI's specialist referees for the difficult groups are also available, details can be found in the BSBI's year book. If you like, you may also email photographs to Quentin Groom.
We hope to survey all the selected grid squares as evenly and completely as possible. Ideally, each square will be surveyed by different people at different times of year. However, we can only do our best, particularly where access and time is limited.
What do we want do with your data?
All records will be made available on this website as soon as possible after digitisation. Once we have all the data we plan to publish a report detailing the results preferably in a forum such as the Transactions of the Natural History Society of Northumberland.
As always, all the data will be made available to local and national record centres where it will be used for numerous studies that aid the conservation and management of our wild plants.