UK Mistletoe Conservation Update – Sept 07

I’m getting a lot of media enquiries about mistletoe already, from monthlies and a few TV shows – mostly a mix of questions about mistletoe conservation and about the mistletoe trade and festival in Tenbury Wells.

So, for the curious, here are some pointers on conservation (more on Tenbury, trade and the festival later): 

  • The status of UK mistletoe – is it declining or not? – was investigated by the 1990s national mistletoe survey, organised by Plantlife and the Botanical Society of the British Isles.  But results were unclear – distribution seemed to have increased (though that might have been due to recording bias) and quantity was not physically measured.  Nevertheless it did seem clear that ‘harvestable’ mistletoe – ie mistletoe in orchards – might be in severe decline, and that mistletoe was generally rare outside of the SW Midlands.  For more background info visit the Mistletoe Pages or buy the survey report (£3 plus UK p&p from Plantlife – £5.00 inclusive I think – a pdf download may be available soon) . So what is happening now?…
  • This winter marks the 10th anniversary of completion of the survey and to mark the occasion some of the data are being re-assessed this autumn, with additional data gathering planned for January – with a little help from some volunteers (so far un-recruited but more on that soon). 

  • And there are renewed efforts to quantify the economic value mistletoe can bring to an apple orchard – too much can be a pest, but managed amounts can conserve the plant, maintain tradition and bring in an income.  Getting firm figures is difficult – but there’s a lot of interest from orchard conservation groups – who can see how mistletoe can add to the value of traditional orchards – and be used to help justify keeping them.

  • Orchard-related mistletoe conservation efforts were significantly boosted recently by the designation of Traditional Orchards as a Priority Habitat in the UK Biodiversity Plan (announced by the Government in August 2007 – details at the UK BAP site).  Quite what this will lead to is not yet clear – but a more strategic approach to orchard conservation is likely, with much more interest, and (maybe) more grant-aid…

  • And there are also various mistletoe conservation projects in local biodiversity plans across the country – but more on those another time…

Er, that’s all for now – info on Tenbury soon – but the Tenbury Mistletoe Festival and TEME websites will tell you a lot already…

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