Why should I take part?

By taking part in the Irish Plant Monitoring Scheme you will be contributing to a national recording scheme, which will track changes in Ireland’s Flora. The scheme provides an opportunity for you to upskill and learn more about plants, particularly if you are a beginner to botany. There is also a great opportunity for volunteers who are already familiar with wildflowers to learn new groups (grasses, sedges, etc.).

In the scheme you will  claim a 1km² site to record within, and we hope you will help us track changes (species, habitats, threats, etc.) in these sites into the future. This is particularly useful if you already regularly record at the site but aren’t making comprehensive lists of species, habitat type or potential threats.

 

Methodology

The entire scheme is managed using an online system at: (https://surveys.biodiversityireland.ie) This site allows you claim your survey site and is where you will submit your data.

                                                                          Claiming your Site

  • Request a 1km² site using online system (https://surveys.biodiversityireland.ie)
  • You can choose between a Priority site, Additional site or your own Elected site.
  • Priority Site – 50 sites which need to be covered for the survey, if there is one near you or you feel that you want to take on a priority site, that would be great! Priority sites are just sites that have been randomly stratified across Ireland by grassland type and by ecological strata. This ensures that we monitor as much grassland diversity as possible within the pilot.
  • Additional Site – Find sites which are local to you, with so many sites across the country you’re likely to find one which isn’t too far away.
  • Elected Site – If you would like to add a grassland site, please get in touch and we will add the 1km² to the online system.
  • Make sure to get landowners permission before you start your survey.
  • Visit your chosen grassland site and take note of habitats and any other interesting features.
  • A minimum of two plots should be carried out, if you feel that your site is extremely diverse then up to five plots can be carried out.
  • The plots should be a representative sample of the site you are studying. This will involve walking the area beforehand and then placing your plot in an area that you feel best represents the entire grassland. For example if the majority of your site includes grasses while only a very small amount contains wildflowers, do not complete all plots within the wildflower area, as it would not be representative of the entire area. While it may be difficult, try to be impartial and only use the results you have gained from walking around your site to influence your plot positioning.
  • Try and keep your plot away from heavily shaded treelines and walls as this will give skewed results.

How to record your plots

  • Mark out a 2x2m plot and record all plant species found within this small area. This booklet includes an identification guide which contains the species of flowering plants you are most likely to see in your plot ordered by colour. There are also guides available on the website for the most likely grasses, sedges and mosses you will find. You should try to identify as much as you can in your plot.
  • If you can not work out what the species is then it is good to take detailed pictures of the plant (flower, leaves, overall form and any other distinctive features). Again, while high quality, detailed pictures are best, as long as the picture is clear and the features in focus (not blurry) then it should still be possible to get an identification. You can send queries and any photographs for identification to flora@biodiversityireland.ie and we will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
  • While completing your plots and identifying species you should also assess the percentage cover of the plants present within your plot. If Daisy covers one quarter of the area of the plot, it will get a percentage cover of 25%.
  • Any additional information or pictures relating to your site or plots (potential threats, land use and signs of management, etc.) are also very useful.
  • Records along with all information about your site can be added to the online system at https://surveys.biodiversityireland.ie – instructions on how to use the online system can be found at http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/plant-monitoring-scheme/
  • Hard copy recording forms are also available from http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/plant-monitoring-scheme/
A 2x2m plot set up and ready to record in.
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Recording species within a 2x2m plot.