Precious Persistence: UHI postgraduate project on Shetland wild plants

The Institute for Northern Studies and the Centre for Mountain Studies at UHI, have partnered with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to explore rare plant ecology and cultural impact.

"Precious Persistence," an innovative postgraduate project is seeking to understand how historical writings about Shetland wild plants are shaping our modern understanding of rare plant ecology and how we experience rare plants today.

In partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and funded by the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities, this project seeks to reveal on how our perception of rare plants shapes conservation efforts and human experiences of nature in the face of climate change.

Led by postgraduate researcher Rebecca Cornwell, alongside Professor Donna Heddle, "Precious Persistence" launched with an invitation to the community through BBC Shetland’s "Beyond the Briggistanes" and in local media, to encourage people to share their stories and experiences with Shetland wild plants, particularly rare species.

During a recent visit to Shetland, Rebecca visited plant habitats from Sumburgh to Unst, and interviewed local historians and naturalists from organisations including Shetland Museum and Archives, Shetland Amenity Trust, NatureScot, Species on the Edge, and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

To explore the changing relationships between people and nature, information is being collected from a variety of sources including literature, archives, botanical databases, herbaria, and the words of stakeholders and community members.

Rebecca said, "We hope to use this information to help us understand and try to overcome the chronic issue of shifting baseline syndrome. This is when knowledge is lost between generations leading to an incomplete understanding of how nature is changing.”

For further information on "Precious Persistence" and to engage with the project, please visit the official webpage: Rebecca Cornwell - Precious Persistence Project