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Help the Cairngorms


The Cairngorms is a magical landscape of high mountains, deep lochs, ancient forest and open moorland, where rare species such as twinflower, one-flowered wintergreen and starry saxifrage can thrive. But these beautiful wild flowers are suffering as their habitats are increasingly fragmented, leaving populations isolated and vulnerable. 

The Cairngorms is one of the UK’s Important Plant Areas, home to a wealth of fascinating but threatened plants, like Scottish mouse-ear and green shield-moss. The two habitats we are focusing on are the Cairngorm mountain grasslands and Caledonian pinewoods. In the mountains we will be helping dwarf willow, fir clubmoss, starry saxifrage and mountain everlasting. In the pine woodland, the project will help widespread species such as juniper and cowberry as well as the more restricted creeping lady’s-tresses, lesser twayblade and the very rare coralroot orchid.

One of Plantlife’s successes in the Cairngorms has been the control of rhododendron near Grantown-on-Spey. This is a great example of a successful partnership between a private estate, trained volunteers and Plantlife. The conservation efforts here created space for twinflower and one-flowered wintergreen, allowing them to flourish. Volunteers now carry out follow-up monitoring on this site.

This type of partnership – bringing together landowners, volunteer effort and Plantlife expertise – is just what our new project will do. We’ll work with Scottish Natural Heritage, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Mountain Training Association and Glenmore Lodge as well as local estates and ranger services. Over the next three years, we will help land managers understand the value of these plants and conserve them. We will support volunteers to act as local ambassadors and survey Cairngorms plants to inform land management. We will also celebrate and build awareness of these wonderful plants among local people and visitors, providing information and training outdoor group leaders.

This will protect rare plants in the Cairngorms and create the conditions for them to spread and flourish: better habitats = more plants. However, none of this is possible without your help...

The total cost of our Cairngorms project is £250,000. We have match funding available from Cairngorms LEADER+, with help from Scottish Natural Heritage and Cairngorms National Park Authority, to the value of £170,000. But we can only access this money if we raise the remaining £80,000. For every £40 you donate, we can spend £125 on saving the wild plants of the Cairngorms. Your donation is worth over three times as much. 

Cairngorms IPA ©Bob Gibbons/Plantlife, Twinflower ©Deborah Long/Plantlife, Starry saxifrage ©Andrew Gagg/Plantlife

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Help the Cairngorms