Project to save threatened wildflowers of the Cairngorms

It is hoped those who love the the UK’s largest national park will volunteer to work alongside conservationists.

Project to save threatened wildflowers of the Cairngorms
Cairngorms: It is hoped those who love the national park will volunteer to help. Picture by Plantlife Scotland

Threatened wildflowers in the Cairngorms are set to get a boost with a new conservation project.

It is hoped those who love the the UK’s largest national park will volunteer to work alongside conservationists to protect plants and habitat, as well as monitor the impact of climate change on species.

Experts have warned the unique wildflowers of the Cairngorms, in pinewoods, grassland and mountain-tops, are threatened by habitat loss and climate change.

The four-year scheme – which will be funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and led by Plantlife Scotland with support from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Cairngorms National Park Authority – aims to help reverse this trend.

It will focus on rare Caledonian pinewood species such as the one-flowered wintergreen and the twinflower, whose remaining isolated populations are on the verge of extinction because of habitat loss and unsuccessful interbreeding.

The species will be carefully moved by conservationists and volunteers to habitat that is more viable, Plantlife said.

There are plans to establish five new populations of twinflower and introduce one-flowered wintergreen to two new sites.

The project will also focus on arctic alpine vegetation, including hardy species such as cloudberry, reindeer lichen and bearberry, which shelter in snow-beds and have nowhere to go as climate change warms the UK.

Monitoring the species will help scientists understand the pressure on the habitat from climate change and pollution.

And there will also be work to restore wildflower-rich grasslands, upland hay meadows, and unimproved grasslands that are rich in rare waxcap fungi.

The plans include restoring five wildflower meadows and working alongside landowners to restore and protect waxcap grasslands.

Plantlife’s Gwenda Diack, project manager, said: “We want people to reconnect with the rich wild plant heritage of this truly special part of Scotland, whether through the rekindling of wild plant folklore, celebrating current uses or taking action to help save rare plants.

“The Rare Plants and Wild Connections project will harness the power of citizen science and our love for the Cairngorms to restore and protect some of the rare plants and fungi of our pinewoods, meadows and mountains.”