Plants play a crucial role in many ecosystems, the health of the environment, and of mankind and their protection is vital to ensure the survivability of these ecosystems for years to come. The protection of flora species is not a practice that many people are common with, but just like wildlife, the extinction of flora species is, unfortunately, a reality. This brings us to botanical surveys. Here we’ll take a look at what a botanical survey is, what it uncovers, and why it is so important for the protection of flora species around the world.
What is a Botanical Survey?
In very easy-to-understand terms, a botanical survey is an inventory of plants found in a specific area. Along with the inventory is information that is important to a specific plant. The survey can be done on a person’s property or land, a large park, or even bigger areas such as national parks and forests. In order to put this survey together, a professional must explore the area several times throughout a season or year, examining all the plants and their performance each season. Botanical surveys often come under other terms depending on who the intended audience is for example in planning often botanical surveys are known as phase 1 habitats surveys, national vegetation classification surveys or species specific botanical surveys aimed at individual species.
Why Have a Botanical Survey Done?
There are a number of reasons a botanical survey might be carried out. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a private landowner who is just curious about the flora on their property, in other instances, it may be government land that needs to be surveyed for official purposes and to keep track of the health of various species, or a developer who wants to know what is on the parcel of land before they start their development project.
What Can the Botanical Survey Reveal?
What’s really interesting is what a botanical survey can reveal. A professional botanical surveyor can put together information on how well a particular species is doing, identify areas of concern, point out potential problems for the future, and even identify those species that are doing exceptionally well.
All of this information can then be assessed and used to better the environment and growing conditions for flora that are at risk, and that are showing signs of disease, decline, and even whether a species is on the verge of extinction. On the flip side, it can also reveal information about the flora that is thriving and shed light on the reasons behind it. Knowledge of the plants present, the habitats or mosaics they form also tells us a lot about the potential for fauna to be present.
It May Not Be Too Late
Now depending on the results of the botanical survey, the species itself, and the environmental factors that are affecting it, the data may come in time to prevent the extinction of a species and or influence management to aid its recovery or in the management for other things such as the fauna that rely on them for cover or feeding.
Ben works for Ecology By Design, an ecological consultancy based in Oxfordshire