CONSERVATIONISTS have announced a “pioneering” project in a bid to save the twinflower in one of its few remaining strongholds in the Highlands. The iconic wildflower – and an emblem of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian forests – is under serious threat of extinction.
The twinflower’s natural habitat is native pine woodlands and loss of its habitat has resulted in patches of the flowers being too far apart to be able to successfully pollinate.
Cairngorms National Park is set to offer a solution and protect this cherished wildflower.
The Cairngorms Rare Plants Project, part of Cairngorms Nature, has developed a innovative new translocation method to move carefully selected plants closer to existing patches of the twinflower.
The aim is to facilitate cross-pollination and seed production between the plants and ensure the long-term recovery of the flower.
Justin Prigmore, Cairngorms Nature Officer, said: “The Twinflower is one of Scotland’s most endangered and charismatic plants and the Cairngorms National Park is a stronghold for the remaining population.
“Past fragmentation of native pinewoods has meant that the distances for pollinating insects to travel between patches of the twinflower are too great, meaning they have not been able to set seed.
“This pioneering project, alongside objectives to expand the area of native pinewoods in the National Park, should help ensure twinflower populations will be safeguarded long into the future.”
Martin Price, Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) board member and Chair of the Cairngorms Nature Strategy Group, added: “The Cairngorms Rare Plants Project involved land managers and ten key conservation partners as well as rangers and local volunteers.
“It is an excellent example of how groups and individuals can come together to make a positive difference.
“We all have a responsibility to conserve the amazing nature we have here in the Cairngorms National Park.”
The project has been entered into the Nature of Scotland Awards 2014 for Innovation and the RSPB Species Champion Award.