Monday, 27 March 2017

A Welsh first - the launch of the Rare Plant Registers

Today in Aberystwyth we celebrated a tremendous Welsh achievement. This year we have completed the series of Rare Plant Registers, making Wales the first country to have a Register for each county, showing the locations for all the rare plants.

The project was begun in 1978 following a request from Glyn Jones of the Nature Conservancy Council to Arthur Chater, for a list of the Rare Plants in Cardiganshire. Arthur gave the matter serious thought, and after significant discussions, produced the first Rare Plant Register in spring 1979 (for me, the year of my birth). In the next 20 years, while I was growing up, rare plant registers were published in Carmarthenshire and Radnorshire. Then in 2005 the Committee for Wales met and decided these documents were so worthwhile that they should work towards a Register for all the counties in Wales. In 2005-2009 a further five Registers were produced. In 2011 I was appointed as the BSBI's first Welsh Officer, and was able to support three (fairly newly appointed) vice-county recorders to produce Registers in 2014. Finally, this year in 2017 we have managed to produce Registers for the missing counties, making a complete set.

Map of Wales showing the vice-counties with the year in which their Rare Plant Register was first published.
This achievement makes us the first county in the world to be able to list the locations for all of our rare plants - there are some other Rare Plant Registers in England, Scotland and Wales, but we are not aware of more beyond Britain and Ireland. The Rare Plant Registers provide a very important resource for those working in conservation.

Today in Aberystwyth we had a welcome from Emyr Roberts, the chief executive of Natural Resources Wales, who talked of the achievement and how Wales can punch above it's weight!
Emyr Roberts
Then Kevin Walker, the BSBI's Head of Science, talked about the value of the BSBI's data collection to conservation - from Atlas recording to the Rare Plant Registers but also the Threatened Plant Project.

Kevin Walker
Later Andy Jones and I shared a platform and a talk on the Welsh Rare Plant Registers as a Domesday Book of plants.
Polly Spencer-Vellacott (me) and Andy Jones
As if the day hadn't been busy enough, I finished off with a live (if short) interview on BBC Radio Wales. If you want to hear it you can follow this link and start about 1:54 to hear me.

I would like to congratulate all the vice-county recorders of Wales who have dedicated so much work to recording the flora and to producing the Rare Plant Registers. It really has been a labour of love for them.

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