Take walk on wildflower side

THE PLANTLIFE charity is looking for volunteers in East Anglia to monitor wild flowers in the area where they live.

The result of the new project, Wildflower Count, will be to expand the charity’s Common Plants Survey which has been running since 2000.

The survey simply asks people to take a local walk and record the common wildflowers they see.

Sue Southway, Plantlife spokeswoman, said: “Wildflowers and other plants are the fundamental building blocks of our natural environment, sustaining us as well as the birds, mammals and other wildlife that we cherish.

“The wildflowers we see around us help show the health of our environment and factors such as improved farmland stewardship, changes in woodland management, pollution or climate change may all affect the wildflowers seen in positive or negative ways. When members of the public keep a watch and record what they see, particularly if they take part each year, their records help to show what is happening.”

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To take part in Wildflowers Count, call the survey hotline on 01722 342755 or email wfc@plantlife.org.uk.

A USEFUL new tool has become available for those trying to record the whereabouts of wildlife species.

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Ben Heather, Suffolk Biological Records Officer, has advised his fellow conservationists of the opportunities afforded by Google’s expanded Street View service on the internet.

During the past two months the coverage has been extended to include the whole of Suffolk, as well as the majority of the country. Ben has pointed out that Street View is a useful tool for surveying roadsides, particularly for rare trees such as the black poplar. The tree has a distinctive form.

With all major and minor roads and even some tracks and cycle paths photographed there are not many places you can’t view,” he writes in the latest edition of the Suffolk Biodiversity Partnership newsletter.

A PROPOSAL to reclassify certain invasive alien mammals as native has been criticised by a Suffolk landowner who is chairman of one of Britain’s leading mammal charities.

The Red Squirrel Survival Trust is concerned about a report from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, which recommends that some invasive species have become so well established in Britain they should be reclassified as native. Miles Barne, the trust’s chairman, said: “It seems particularly inappropriate that in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, we are being asked to ignore one of the greatest threats to our own fragile biodiversity.”

The trust’s role is to restore and preserve Britain’s red squirrel population which is in danger of extinction. The American grey squirrel out-competes the red for food and habitat and also carries the deadly squirrel pox virus which can speed up the decline of the red by up to 20 times. The trust will oppose any move to adopt the grey squirrel as a “native”.

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