A new churchyard survey for Sussex

Helen Proctor


Picture of Withyham church
Withyham church. Photo: Brad Scott

A survey of churchyards, cemeteries and burial grounds is the subject of the current Society project.  In a county under pressure from development of housing and infrastructure many such plots are an important source of bio-diversity, especially in urban or intensively farmed areas.  The aim is to audit these plots, to identify the most important and interesting, and to liaise with those with a stake in their management in order to encourage good practice for the preservation and enhancement of their plant communities.

Over 100 churchyards and cemeteries were previously surveyed in the 1980s and up to 1991. The old record cards make interesting reading with some churchyards and cemeteries gaining over 120 vascular plant records which include some less common species.

As announced at the 2016 AGM, members of the SBRS are being invited to participate in a new survey. I have agreed to co-ordinate this and would ask members to register their intention to survey particular churchyards, cemeteries etc with me so that we may avoid duplication of recording effort.

A survey form is available. As much information as possible is welcomed, eg further notes on the habitats, the current grassland management and other wildlife interest, but is not essential.

Vascular plant records should be entered onto the usual Excel recording card (paper copy if you are not an IT user). Although this is site recording it is still necessary to make separate lists for each tetrad where a site extends over more than one. Three visits per year in Spring, mid and late summer would be ideal for vascular plant recording. Those with the expertise and enthusiasm may wish to record lower plants using the relevant recording cards.

Please email copies of your survey forms and recording cards to me as soon as you have recorded each visit; I shall relay the latter to the BSBI Vice-county Recorders. This allows them to spot and correct errors and request further information while the plants are still visible. This also saves everyone from having a backlog to enter at the end of the year!

A report on the progress of the project in 2016 was presented to the 2016 autumn meeting of the Society:

Happy botanising everyone!

See also the information on recording in 2017, and the presentation from the AGM.