Why collate data?
1. To develop effective conservation strategies for Irish plants
Often the distribution and status of very rare plants or those under legislation is known. However, it is important that we assess the conservation status of our entire flora using a recognised methodology (e.g. IUCN Red List; this was last published in Ireland in 1988). This allows us not only to identify those species that are currently threatened within our landscape, but also highlights those that are a cause for future concern (near threatened). Having a centralised database is essential for this process. It will also allow us to identify hotspots of plants under threat.
2. To develop effective conservation strategies for other components of Irelands biodiversity.
Sometimes we overlook how interconnected our biodiversity is. We cannot develop effective strategies for the conservation of other components of our biodiversity (e.g., pollinators) without understanding the current distribution and status of vascular plants.
3. To identify the most important areas for plant diversity
Under Target 5 of the National Strategy for Plant Conservation, we agreed to assure the protection of the most important areas for plant diversity. Having a centralised database and an agreed methodology will allow the identification of hotspots of plant diversity at both national and regional levels; and contribute towards fulfilment of this target.
4. To identify genuine recording gaps
There are gaps in our knowledge of the Irish flora. Some geographic areas are well recorded and others are not. Fortunately, we do have many people with the expertise and the enthusiasm to help fill those gaps. The development of a centralised database will help to ensure that those with the expertise and interest in recording the Irish flora can be directed to both the areas and the species where it is most required.
5. To monitor real changes in our flora
The BSBI track changes in our flora thorough the Atlas project which publishes the known distribution of vascular plants at approximately 20 yearly intervals. However, we don’t systematically monitor changes in the Irish flora at present. Monitoring of this type would allow us to greater understand how our flora is changing, and to get an early warning of future problems. It will allow us to more accurately track the movement and impact of invasive species, to track changes in important components of our flora (rare and threatened species, Crop Wild Relatives), and provide data on the effects of climate change on Irish plants and their habitats.