Plantlife research project warns environment cuts will have lasting impact

Cuts made now mean that the countryside will decline in the long-term, and this will have an impact on the economy, conservation charity Plantlife chief executive Victoria Chester has said in the organisation's annual report.

She asked whether the environment bears more than its fair share of cuts. Chester noted that prime minister David Cameron said his will be the "greenest Government ever", but she said disproportionate cuts at Defra disproved this.

New Plantlife trustees chair Peter Ainsworth, the former shadow environment minister, added that cuts in environment spending would be counter-productive in the long run. "The economy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the natural environment," he said.

Plantlife is leading a research project with Cambridge Botanic Gardens and Kew to germinate the fen orchid and help secure the rare plant's future. It is also partnering Loving Our Limestone, a three-year project to clear scrub and allow 35 rare plants such as white rock rose and Goldilocks Aster to return.

In Scotland, Plantlife has launched a new public survey to look for golden seaweed or wig wrack, Britain's only unattached, mat-forming seaweed.

Plantlife and the RHS have published Gardening Without Harmful Invasive Plants (see p4), which is designed to encourage gardeners, pond lovers and landscape designers to use native, non-invasive plants in place of invasives.

PLANTLIFE SUCCESSES 2009-10

Meadow clary enjoyed a 1,500 per cent increase at a site in Gloucestershire. The threatened violet-blue sage is found in only 22 places in Britain but a new management plan resulted in 800 plants appearing.

Marsh clubmoss, an endangered fern, reappeared at a Thames Basin site this year after clearance work by Plantlife.

Pigmy rush reappeared after a 25-year absence at the Lizard in Cornwall.

Tower mustard came back to Worcestershire, where it was thought to be extinct, after a two-year Plantlife project.

Plantlife began a trial land management technique to halt the loss of native juniper, which has seen a decline of 60 per cent.

In the Little Ouse Headwaters Project, excavations have begun to remove degraded peat to allow fen flora such as Grass-of-Parnassus and marsh lousewort.


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