Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 12:31 UK

Fifth of wild plants under threat


Around 20% of wild plants in Wales are under threat

One in five wild plants in Wales are either extinct or under threat says a report by a conservation charity.

Plantlife Wales said its study gives an up-to-date picture of the state of wild flora.

Report author Dr Trevor Dines said it was "shocking" that a hawkweed only found in Wales in a Gwynedd village had vanished 10 months ago.

A new road and herbicide spraying were among the causes being blamed.

The charity says its analysis places Wales' native flora in context both within the UK and internationally.

Among a list of species under threat are Great Orme Berry and the South Stack Fleawort, which are found nowhere else in the world.

The author of Plantlife, Dr Trevor Dines said: "Wales has some extremely special plants.


"This report places the spotlight on them for the first time so we can focus our limited resources on protecting our most important species.

"It is shocking to realise that Wales' most recent extinction was only confirmed 10 months ago.

"Llanfairfechan Hawkweed was only found on walls in this Gwynedd village but, as a result of herbicide spraying, the new expressway and simple mismanagement, it has now vanished from this country forever," he added.

Plants under threat in Wales, clockwise from top left, the Spreading Bellflower, the Campanula, the Arctic Mouse-ear and the Oysterplant
Some of the plants on the 'red list' in Wales

"It is vital that we learn our lessons and really raise the profile of Wales' wonderful and diverse wild flowers and plants to safeguard our heritage for the future.'

The research reveals which species are more threatened in Wales than in the rest of Britain and, conversely, which are doing better.

Plantlife and other conservation organisations will now use the data to prioritise species for conservation action.

In a pattern that reflects the UK picture, arable species are the largest single group that have been lost from Wales, with over a fifth of the 38 extinctions being typical of cultivated fields.

The peak period for losses was a 19 year period between 1961 and 1980 when 15 species were recorded for the last time.

The report says this coincides with the greatest period of agricultural intensification in Wales.

Climate change is a recognised factor in recent extinctions, says the charity.

The seeds of Oysterplant need long, cold winters to germinate and seedlings only appeared in quantity at its last Welsh location following hard winters.

The report also includes a list of species that have between 25-100% of their total GB population in Wales and therefore a particular responsibility to conserve them.

Some 3.4% of Welsh species are critically endangered compared to 1.9% of British species and 2.6% of species are extinct in Wales compared to only 1% of British species.

Conversely, Wales does better with species, which are less threatened with only 1.9 % compared to 5.5% near threatened in Britain.

The study notes the importance of identifying species which are at the southern edges of their range in Wales to monitor the impacts of climate change.

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