The Big Meadow Search (BMS) is a citizen science project which aims to encourage people to record plants in an area of grassland of their own choice. The idea is to get them outside, to look at what they’re walking through, and to learn to identify the plants they find, thus raising awareness and interest in grasslands and their importance. It began in 2021 as an initiative by the Carmarthenshire Meadows Group in West Wales, and was at first only intended to be carried out within our county; but it generated interest beyond Carmarthenshire and beyond Wales too, so we soon expanded it to cover the whole of the UK.
The BMS species tick list is based on the National Plant Monitoring Scheme grassland indicator species, plus additional species of interest from meadows and grasslands – but all plants found should be recorded, whether on the BMS species list or not. Any type of species-rich grassland can be searched; meadows, churchyards, road verges, amenity grassland. Obviously, if it’s not public access land, make sure to get permission!
To take part:
- Select your grassland
- Record the location name, grid reference and date
- Walk around and write down all the plants you can see
- If you aren’t sure on a species, take photographs from multiple angles of the flower heads, basal and stem leaves, upper and lower leaf surface, leaf base shape and either post on our social media or email to us and we will try and help to identify the species
- Enter your results on our website and once we have finished our BMS analysis, we will send them on to your local environmental record centre (LERC)
You can find lots of information on our Facebook page Big Meadow Search, or on our Twitter account @bigmeadowsearch, or you can get in touch via email on email@example.com.
We have produced a book based on the social media posts containing ID tips using vegetative features for plants on the BMS tick list, and information on some of their associated invertebrates, galls, and fungi. It’s available by mail order and costs £10 plus £2.70 p&p. If you would like a copy, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our website (www.bigmeadowsearch.co.uk) has lots more information, and you can enter your findings directly on the website. This year’s BMS will run from June 1st until August 31st.
Laura Moss and Andrew Martin