Is Environmental Stewardship working for rare and threatened plants?
Of the 1556 vascular plant species that are native (including archaeophytes) to the UK 40% are recorded as Threatened and/or Nationally Rare or Scarce. The majority of this threatened flora is found within the productive landscape. Environmental Stewardship (ES) now provides the best and most available tool for recovering rare plant populations in England. Through analysis of the potential for ES to deliver for the rare plants of the SW it became clear Entry Level Stewardship could only deliver for 15% of species (the majority being arable plants) although it receives 72% of the total ES funding. Higher Level Stewardship has the potential to deliver some or all of the needs of 89% of species. However the scheme is limited by funding and the complex requirements of many rare plants (some requiring both a holistic and micro-management approach and some requiring contrasting management approaches within the same habitat) means targeted delivery and expert knowledge and advice is required.