New Flora Project

In November 2010, Culture Vannin provided a lump of funding to the New Flora Project; an ongoing project to create a comprehensive atlas of the Island's flora. Part of this funding was used specifically to examine the London Natural History Museum's herbarium and Kew Botanic Garden's international herbarium. Below is a detailed outline of the project, provided by Flora Committee member and Wildflowers of Mann Project Manager Andree Dubbeldam.

Isle of Man New Flora Project

The flora will cover all vascular plants (flowering plants, conifers, ferns, horsetails and clubmosses) which number just over 500 native species and a further approximately 2000 introduced (non-native) species. The project looks both at the current status, through a whole Island survey and at the historical status, through comprehensive literature and database research. The Flora Project is not led by any one organisation, but is a collaborative project between Manx National Heritage, Manx Wildlife Trust, Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, Centre for Manx Studies and the Botanical Society of the British Isles. Together these groups make up the "Flora Committee". The project is principally driven by volunteer time with a small backup of professional time.

The finished Project should culminate in a large published volume that describes the status of each species with a tetrad scale (2km x 2km) distribution map. The datasets will also be available through the Manx Biodiversity website and organisation. The primary use of the data will be to guide and inform botanical and habitat conservation on the Island for the next 20 years, indeed it will be a scientific cornerstone for much biodiversity conservation work. In addition the Project will:

  • Create a baseline for future surveys.
  • Include in the publication an overview of the Island's natural history that will be an essential reference work for (up to) undergraduate level students.
  • Put the Island's flora in a British/Irish context with datasets that will contribute to British and European floras and to assist in international research on plant distribution and status.
  • Help train local amateur natural history enthusiasts in botanical identification.

Wildflower conservation has already benefited from the flora surveys with new species identified that are native to the Island and sites of species found that were thought extinct, such as the carnivorous bladderwort, whose Curragh home has already had conservation work carried out to ensure its long-term survival on the Island.

Work so far
To date (January 2014) the flora project has completed over 2/3 of the whole Island survey with data from over 20 volunteer surveyors. (See map below of the tetrad survey coverage as of December 2013.

The survey should be complete by the end of 2015. The historical research is ongoing but so far the New Flora Project has:

  • Compiled all the main Island digitised datasets into one.
  • Reviewed and re-catalogued all the Manx Museum's herbarium data.
  • Examined the London Natural History Museum's herbarium and Kew Botanic Garden's international herbarium. (Funded by Culture Vannin).
  • Reviewed the extent of undigitised datasets that are held on record cards, within old diaries and other sources.