Worcestershire Record No. 1 1996 p. 1


by R.Maskew

The possibility of conducting a Worcestershire Flora Survey was first discussed by myself and John Day in 1985. After a further two years of much discussion and planning the Worcestershire Flora Project was set up in 1987 to produce a new county flora which records and maps the distribution of all the native and alien species of flowering plants, ferns and horsetails occurring in Worcestershire.

The previous Flora was published in 1909 and is now hopelessly out of date. Land use has changed greatly since that time, and the rate of change has accelerated in the past thirty years with a revolution in farming practices. It is therefore imperative that we have a full knowledge of the state of our flora, especially with regard to rare and endangered species.

Initially around a hundred people were contacted who we hoped might help us with the recording. An inaugural meeting was held in April 1987.

It was decided to make the recording unit a tetrad (2km x 2km), and that each 10km square would be controlled by a co-ordinator who would be responsible for organising the field recording and record keeping for their square. As field recording cards already available were considered unsuitable, a specific Worcestershire card was designed. On the reverse of the A4 card approximately 900 species are listed, including aliens, certain sub-species, with some critical groups represented by a single entry under the aggregate name.

Records of species which are considered either rare or difficult to identify are accompanied by full details. This information is written in columns on the front of the card i.e. six figure grid references, locality, habitat etc. These details are finally transferred onto a 10km square species card.

To date we have over 180,000 records and this figure could well reach around 220,000. It is expected to take another three or four years to complete the recording.

Our present need is for computer hardware. This large mass of information now needs to be transferred to computer disc for storage, retrieval, analysis and publishing purposes.

With this in mind the Worcestershire Flora Project became a registered charity in 1995. Over the last six months an attempt to raise the necessary funds has been made and a number of potential donors contacted. We are awaiting results.

It is proposed to produce a full-scale hardback publication. This will be in two main parts. Firstly, introductory chapters covering subjects including geology and soil, climate, history of botanical recording, species habitats and associated plant communities. The second part will cover the species accounts which will be fairly brief for common species, but much fuller for scarce and critical plants, to include details on habitat, frequency and distribution, temporal changes etc.

The addition of dot maps showing a clear picture of distribution will be given for the majority of the less common species and included with the text. It has been decided to adopt the Recorder and D Map software packages.

Such a thorough examination of the County's flora is a long term undertaking. We intend to publish not later than the year 2005.

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