The IUCN SSC Freshwater Plant Specialist Group (FPSG) is a network of scientists and researchers with an interest in the conservation of wetland plants. It was formed initially with the support of the Fondation Tour du Valat and Plantlife under the umbrella of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
All FPSG members automatically become members of IUCN and will therefore receive information on the activities of IUCN worldwide. The ultimate aim is that the group will have representatives in all countries and represent an unparalleled information network.
The FPSG exists to promote and further the conservation of plant species which are dependent upon wetlands and the habitats upon which they depend. Its aim is to achieve this through a combination of:
- Establishing a database of all aquatic and wetland plants, including vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens and algae that are dependent upon wetlands. The database will store information on the taxonomy, nomenclature and distribution of each species, with the aim that it be improved through review by FPSG members. The foundation of the database has been established with funding from Biofresh (Biodiversity of Freshwater Ecosystems) and the support of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH).
- Assessment of the conservation status of all wetland-dependent plants using the IUCN Red List categories and criteria.
- Preparation of action plans for the conservation of wetland-dependent plants, initially concentrating on specific regions for which a regional Red List assessment of freshwater-dependent plants has been completed or on particular species.
- Support for individual projects proposed by the members. This support will mainly take the form of providing information and links to contacts, as well as assistance with preparation of funding proposals.
Although specifically aimed at conservation of wetland-dependent plants, wetland conservation cannot be successful without information on the environment on which the plants depend, or on methods of managing this environment. Therefore, whilst the membership of the group will be dominated by botanists, people with an interest in plants but their main knowledge and experience in other disciplines such as hydrology, geology, geomorphology and water management will also be welcomed as members.
Melanie Bilz is our Red List Authority.
The FPSG now has four sub-groups:
- Charophytes - coordinated by Nick Stewart and Michelle Casanova.
- Isoetes – coordinated by Angelo Troia.
- Non-marine halophytes – coordinated by Hossein Akhani.
- Podostemaceae (plus Hydrostachyaceae) – coordinated by Tom Philbrick.
We have now produced the first two FPSG Species Conservation Action Plans, for Damasonium alisma and Callitirche pulchra, which are being reviewed by the group and will be published later this year.
I have presented information on some of the freshwater plant conservation projects which fall within the remit of the FPSG on the Research and Conservation page of my web-site: www.ardeola-environmental.com.
Temporary pool, near Cuidad Real, Spain, 2010