In a recent publication, Wavy Meadow Grass (Poa Flexuosa) is described as being incredibly rare with its biggest population found on Ben Nevis, about 300 plants. During this survey we found two new locations and this year we counted 550 plants in one of them. On Ben Nevis, Wavy Meadow Grass is doing really quite well compared with the rest of the UK.
Does any of this matter? Why did we spend so much time and effort counting little flowers and grasses that few people recognise anyway?
Well, there are very good reasons why we should maintain our mountains in good condition for the sake of biodiversity and to study it for the impact of global warming. However, the more immediate benefit is simply knowing just how special climbing on Ben Nevis is. It's quite well understood that, at its best, climbing on Ben Nevis is second to none. It stands amongst the best mountaineering experiences available on the world stage. And now we know it is that little bit more special because as you walk in to Coire na Ciste we will know that beneath our boots is the nations largest area of Wavy Meadow Grass, a very rare species of grass; as we climb Green Gully, ice axes biting into the plastic snow-ice, remember that super rare species of flowers grow underneath called Arctic Mouse Ear, Alpine Speedwell and Highland Saxifrage; as you climb The Great Chimney, first climbed by Marshall and Smith in that legendary week of climbing in 1960, remember that it is home to a colony of Alpine Saxifrage and Tufted Saxifrage on account of the slight difference in geology that formed the chimney in the first place.
Huge thanks go to Cathy Mayne of SNH, Donald King, Al Halewood, Scott Kirkhope, Dave Anderson, Will Rowland, Dave Buckett, Connor Holdsworth and Andy Hague. It's been a pleasure to work with Roddy Muir of Midland Valley, Ian Strachan, Dan Watson of NTS and Matt Harding the botanists, Ali Austin and Blair Fyffe of JMT, and James Cooper who worked all week just for fun. It would not have been possible without Lewis Pate, Susan Nicol, Beccy Cantle, Ciaran Tangney, Peter Struthers and Hannah Bathgate of Nevis Landscape Partnership.
It's been a great demonstration of the benefits of partnership working and an absolute blast!