New England Wild Flower Society (NEWFS) participates in a program to recruit and train amateur field botanists to perform much-needed conservation work throughout New England.Â The Plant Conservation Corps has grown from a small pilot program to a regional corps engaging hundreds of volunteers all across New England.
Recognizing the shortage of trained personnel and the labor-intensive nature of plant conservation, members of the New England Plant Conservation Program (NEPCoP) recommended that New England Wild Flower Society initiate an effort to train volunteers to perform much-needed plant conservation fieldwork. Since 1998, volunteers have donated more than 50,000 hours of fieldwork and provided invaluable data to State Heritage Programs and NEPCoP professionals. The Corps is established in all six New England states, collecting data, performing management work, working with state Heritage Programs, and building a region-wide constituency for native plants.
Each volunteer receives classroom and field training as well as a comprehensive handbook. All volunteers can take part in special classes, field trips, and symposia. These educational programs, networking opportunities, and a yearly evaluation process ensure the reliability of volunteer work, as well as the enjoyment of the experience.
Plant Conservation Volunteers are involved in a variety of plant conservation activities vital to the preservation of New England’s native flora:
Rare Plant Monitoring
Volunteers regularly monitor the health of the rarest plants in New England, identifying threats to these populations and building a constituency for natural habitats and plant communities.
Volunteers manage lands for rare species and their habitats. Loss of open space through development and natural succession has become a problem as urban areas expand and rural areas return to forests. In the long run, we must focus on protecting entire habitats, rather than single species, but while striving to do this, we must also maintain individual plant populations.
Survey and Control of Invasive Species
Under the Society’s guidance, volunteers assist in removal of invasive species from selected natural areas, particularly habitats where exotic species are just beginning to impact native flora.
General Botanical Surveys
Much of New England, especially privately held lands, has never been surveyed comprehensively. The Society trains PCVs to produce botanical surveys of both native and non-native plants and make management recommendations.
An application form and more information can be found at www.newfs.org.Â There will be a learning day scheduled for applicants to hear more about the 2010 activities.Â Deadline for submission is Monday, February 1.