Northern Ireland

Volunteers needed for wildflower survey

Image caption More than 100 one-kilometre squares of land have been selected

Volunteers are being encouraged to help with a wildflower survey in Northern Ireland.

It is part of a UK-wide monitoring project to assess habitats and species diversity.

Extensive citizen science has already helped establish good information on populations of birds, butterflies and bats.

But the level of change in plant populations is not as well known.

Image caption Banks of primroses are a sure sign of spring

Now the Department of Agriculture and Environment is hoping to build a network of enthusiasts to create a detailed record of wildflowers and plants across Northern Ireland.

The survey, between April and September, will look at specific areas.

'No special skills'

A total of 115 squares, each a kilometre square, have been randomly selected covering different terrain.

"Volunteers will be provided with a survey pack," said Lorna Somerville from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

"This will include a list of common species found in each habitat and an easy-to-use species identification guide, based on flower colour."

Image caption Wood sorrel is a regular on our woodland floors

"You don't have to be a botanist to volunteer," she explained. "Other than being able to cover the ground, no special skills are required. All the information you need will be provided and you will be guided through the process."

The information will be used to build a detailed picture of plant species and distribution.

Volunteers are being asked to sign up via the National Plant Monitoring Scheme website at: http://www.npms.org.uk

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