Monitoring change in grassland, and recording what’s there.

Don’t forget that the Big Meadow Search (BMS) will be running during Wales Nature Week (30th May – 6thJune).  To recap; we’re asking for volunteers to do something like the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, only it’ll be to record plants rather than birds.  This project has been developed by CMG with the help of the Carmarthenshire county plant recorders. Although developed here in our county, it’s open to anyone to take part and you don’t need your own meadow – but please get the landowner’s permission if you go onto somebody else’s!   The event will also be running during the week of 3rd – 10th July (to coincide with National Meadows Day). You can search in one or the other week or both if you have the time.  The main purpose of the BMS is to generate a lot of plant records from grassland (in our county and beyond) by searching the meadow armed with a tick list of species to look out for.

The tick list (in both Word and Excel formats) is available below. There are two versions of each file, one for Carmarthenshire and one for elsewhere. 

Otherwise we can send them on request from bigmeadowsearch@gmail.com and it can be printed out for use in the field, then you can enter your results into the Excel file (preferably), or Word file (if it’s easier) so you can email the results back to the same address.   The list is based on the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) lowland grassland species list with additional meadow species added at the end.

The NPMS have a useful colour identification guide accessible as a free online PDF at https://www.npms.org.uk/sites/default/files/PDF/NPMS_Id%20guide_WEB_2ndEd.pdf

as well as a two-part introduction to lowland grassland at https://www.npms.org.uk/content/online-training

There is a Big Meadow Search 2021 Facebook group where you can add your finds, photos and comments and see what else is being found, and a Twitter account: @bigmeadowsearch.

If you have any queries, please contact bigmeadowsearch@gmail.com 

The National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) has a different aim – to monitor change over time in the species composition of a specific sampling area of grassland, rather than to record what’s present in the field as the BMS will.  Anyone can volunteer for the NPMS, and to help such volunteers, Plantlife are arranging free botanical monitoring training – this will be a 2-day training course on 18th and 19th June, full daysThis might be also accompanied by an online introductory session beforehand (tbc). The training is organised by Magnificent Meadows Cymru project in conjunction with professional botanist Deborah Sazer, who many of you will already know.  This training would be very relevant to both the NPMS and the BMS.

Day 1 – will focus on identification of common and indicator grassland plants and will aim to cover a few different grassland types such as acid, wet and/or neutral meadow. (location/s tbc, likely Three Crosses, Gower)

Day 2 – will focus on grassland monitoring techniques and practice them outdoors. This involves setting up a quadrat in a field and identifying what species are found within the quadrat, and their frequencies. 

NPMS is running a series of online courses on different grassland types, it would be really helpful if you attend these before your 2-day training to familiarise yourself with the plants. The sessions that are of interest are listed below (most important ones in bold), register here: Training Webinars | National Plant Monitoring Scheme:

Introduction to NPMS and survey methodology: 25/05/21, 12-3.30

Introduction to Lowland Grassland Habitats 1 (Dry Acid grassland and dry heathland): 21/05/21, 7-9pm

Introduction to Lowland Grassland Habitats 2 (Neutral Damp grassland and neutral pasture): 28/05/21, 7-9pm

Introduction to Lowland Grassland Habitats 3 (Dry calcareous): 11/06/21, 7-9pm

Introduction to Marsh and Fen habitats: 22/06/21, 10-11.30am

Introduction to Upland grasslands: 29/06/21, 10-11.30am

Plantlife are aiming to fill up to 15 places max on a first come first serve basis so please let them know your initial interest by May 26th so they can open the invitation to others if needed. If you are interested, please also let them know what stage of restoration you are at and what type of grassland / meadow you own. This will help decide what sites to visit and what grassland types to focus on for the training.

To register your interest, please email  Lucia.Chmurova@plantlife.org.uk .

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