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You are being invited to participate in this online survey which is part of a PhD project titled ‘Garden plants: a threat to the natural environment due to climate change?’ This research is being conducted by Tomos Jones, a PhD student at the University of Reading. The project is supervised by Dr Alastair Culham and Dr Brian Pickles at the University and by Dr Eleanor Webster at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

This research will investigate the possible impacts of climate change on the distribution of garden plants (as non-native plants) and their interaction with the natural environment in Britain and Ireland. The aim of this short survey is to gather information on which garden plants are perceived to be a future threat to the natural environment in your vice-county (VC). Here are the definitions of the terms included in this survey:

Native species: A plant which is “present in the study area (Britain and/or Ireland) without, intervention by humans, whether intentional or unintentional, having come from an area in which it is native or one which has arisen de novo in the study area (Macpherson et al., 1996:14). This includes species with a changing natural range (without direct human intervention) as a consequence of climate change (Gilroy, Avery and Lockwood, 2017).

Non-native plant (NNP): A plant which was “brought to the study area (Britain and/or Ireland) by humans, intentionally or unintentionally, even if native in the source area” or one which has “come to the area without human intervention, but from an area in which it is present as a non-native (Macpherson et al., 1996:14). Synonym: alien, introduced. NNPs do not necessarily have a detrimental ecological and/or economic impact on the natural environment. These are termed ‘invasive’ (see below).

Garden plant: A NNP which has been introduced intentionally for horticultural purposes.  It may be naturalised or not. Does not include NNPs arriving by other means such as in bird seed mixes which are often found in gardens.

Naturalised: A NNP (including garden plants) that has established in the natural environment with a self-reproducing population, either increasing by sexual or vegetative means (Stace and Crawley, 2015). A naturalised NNP is not necessarily invasive (see below). 

Invasive: To have a detrimental ecological and/or economic impact.

Control: Efforts to mitigate the economic and/or ecological impact of a NNP, but does not necessarily mean complete eradication. This includes listing on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Eradication: The total removal of a NNP from the natural environment.

This initial survey is for BSBI VC recorders as you have good knowledge and experience of plant distribution in your VC. This survey can be completed regardless of your personal opinion on climate change as a driver for vegetation changes. The survey will inform subsequent elements of the PhD, including species’ distribution modelling and a citizen science project which will give the wider BSBI membership, and the general public, an opportunity to engage with this project. 

Are you a BSBI VC recorder? Required

If you are not the sole recorder for your VC, each recorder is encouraged to complete this survey independently.