Back from the brink
About this product
It’s 9am on the quiet, misty, Dorset heaths, the silence broken suddenly by the rumble of a five-tonne tractor as it squashes 3,000 marsh clubmoss plants into the mud. This may sound like the beginning of a horrific story, but it is actually groundbreaking conservation work in action, carried out by our Dorset’s Heathland Heart team.
Marsh clubmoss has declined by 85% in the past 85 years due to loss of habitat and changes in land use, but thanks to this radical approach there are now 13,000 of these tiny, lime-green, spruce tree-like plants brightening up the countryside. However, this isn’t the only success story to come out of this project, for pale dog-violet has re-emerged across the heaths in response to the removal of carefully selected gorse bushes; lesser butterfly-orchid numbers have increased following controlled burning, and yellow centaury has returned after a 20-year absence.
Dorset’s Heathland Heart is just one of the Back from the Brink partnership projects that Plantlife is leading. We are also colouring in the margins of England’s arable farmland, where changing farming practices have contributed to a 96% loss of farmland flowers and a decline in farmland birds, beetles and bats. Arable margins are key food sources and safe havens for many species, so we are working with partners to conserve our most threatened, including interrupted brome, small-flowered catchfly and spring speedwell. New knowledge about the need for the very rare pheasant’s-eye seed to be baked in the sun led to larger numbers of the species appearing at several locations. And further re-introductions are planned of many species to carefully chosen sites.
Thank you for supporting wild flower conservation – it is all down to you that threatened species and habitats are coming back from the brink. While we have already seen great successes, we need to do much more and this is where you come in.
From Cornwall to Yorkshire to Kent, 82 species will benefit from this urgent conservation action, including pheasant’s-eye, pillwort, yellowhammer, Purbeck mason wasp, ladybird spider, sand lizard and small heath butterfly. The National Lottery Heritage Fund kindly donated a large proportion of the funding for these projects, but we need to raise the remaining £45,000 required to complete this work. Please donate to help arable margins and heathland flourish again.
Chamomile, lesser butterfly-orchid and yellow centaury sway in the breeze, a heath tiger beetle scuttles across sandy patches, the wings of the silver-studded blue glisten as it flies low over the vibrant heather. And in the colourful arable margins, a harvest mouse clambers up a grassy tussock, watching a brown hare feed on grass shoots and skylarks soar above corn buttercups, red hemp-nettle and ground-pine.
This is the future you can help build.
Claire Parton, Head of Projects
PS: In Back from the Brink, Plantlife works with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, the RSPB, Natural England and dozens of other partners, all acting together to save not only wild flowers but a variety of other rare species and habitats, resulting in an improvement to the whole ecosystem.
Images: Pheasant's-eye ©Cath Shellswell/Plantlife, Marsh clubmoss ©Dominic Price/Plantlife, Pale dog-violet ©Sophie Lake/Plantlife, Heathland ©Plantlife