A Collective Vision

Over 120 plants are endangered in Ireland, some of which are on the verge of extinction. Here's what you can do to help prevent this.

Written by our herbalist

October 10, 2021

According to the National Botanical Gardens database, in Glasnevin, Dublin, over 120 plants are endangered in Ireland, some of which are on the verge of extinction.

Yes okay, it may be small relative to other countries or regions plagued by extinction. But we need to put it in context to truly understand the crisis we are facing. Ireland has only 850 native species of flora. If we take 120 plants (going extinct or endangered), that is at least 14% of our native species near disappeared! This is a biodiversity nightmare. If this fact was transferred to the fauna, there would be an outcry.

You might be asking yourself, so why is this happening and why is there no outcry about flora habitat loss? Don't worry it puzzles me too! So… How do we convince people that flora is vital to our existence? Or how do we get the message across that floral biodiversity is worth saving?

These are vital questions we have been humming and hawing over for a while now. It's clear that our intensive commercial farming practices, mixed with dwindling wild meadows and forested areas, have contributed to it, but what strategies can we implement to revitalise our native plant life?

The national strategy for flora conservation has 15 targets to conserve Irish flora. Below is the list outlining these strategies as compiled by the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin. These targets are an excellent roadmap to aid us and educate us in understanding and documenting plant diversity in your local area:

1: Widely accessible preliminary census lists of all wild plant species, and fungi, found in Ireland. Where to find this information? If you don’t have a computer go to your local library or just take a walk in your area and start documenting the plants you are finding.

2: A preliminary assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species, in Ireland completed and made widely available.

3: Comprehensive and documented suite of practical solutions based on new or tested models, case studies, research and other experiences available for plant conservation and sustainable use in Ireland.

4: No species of wild flora endangered by international trade

5: At least 10 per cent of each of Ireland’s plant habitats effectively conserved

6: All plant-based products derived from Irish wild plants harvested from sustainably managed sources.

7: Protection of the most important areas for plant diversity in Ireland assured.

8: Safeguard the traditional practices based on plant resources and their associated knowledge, that is sustainable and that support local communities and their livelihoods in Ireland.

9: At least 30 per cent of production lands in Ireland managed consistent with the conservation of plant diversity.

Promoting education and awareness about plant diversity

10: Conservation of at least 60 per cent of Ireland’s threatened plant species assured in situ.

11: Ensure that plant conservation and biodiversity issues are incorporated into the formal educational curricula at all levels in Ireland, and in informal education and national public awareness programmes.

12: All threatened Irish plant species in accessible ex-situ collections, and all Critically Endangered and Endangered category species included in effective conservation management programmes. Building capacity for the conservation of plant diversity

13: Conserve the genetic diversity of all known indigenous traditional Irish varieties of crop plants, landraces and crop relatives as well as other socio-economically valuable plants species.

14: The number of trained people working with appropriate facilities in plant conservation increased, as required, to achieve the targets of this Strategy.

15: Management plans in place for at least 10 major alien species that threaten plants, plant communities and associated habitats and ecosystems in Ireland.

16: A broadly-based Irish network for plant conservation established to provide people with a sound database on which to work.

Stay tuned for more, as we explore how we can do more to protect our wonderful natural fauna.

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