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BioBlitz set to record wealth of natural life within Holyrood Park

14 August 2009


This Sunday a free and fun day out at Holyrood Park offers families the chance to take part in a unique scientific survey - and find out all about the amazing range of wildlife and plants to be found not only in the Park, but also throughout Scotland and further afield.

BioBlitz - which has been jointly organised by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers Scotland (BTCV Scotland) and Historic Scotland - is a fusion of science and community engagement involving hundreds of volunteers descending on a nature hotspot to record all of the wildlife species that can be found there over a 24-hour period.  

Expert recorders will be carrying out scientific-led studies on Saturday (when the 24-hour recording period commences at 3pm) and on Sunday, the BioBlitz event is open to the public from 11am to 4pm.  All the volunteers who come along then will be being invited to participate in a range of surveys of wildlife species.  They will also be able to join survey walks led by an expert, to log any species identified and location details.

Martin Gray, an Historic Scotland Ranger said: “There’s a huge range of life to be found here, so Bioblitz will be a fun and fascinating experience for all ages and a chance to learn more about all the mini-beasts and bigger-beasties in the Park, including bats, birds, bumblebees, butterflies and moths, hoverflies, and a huge range of invertebrates. We’ll also be examining the vegetation, identifying and recording the different trees, shrubs, flowering plants, grasses, sedges and mosses, and wealth of lichens and fungi.”

John McFarlane, BTCV Scotland’s environment development officer, said: “By ‘wildlife’ we mean the full monty - birds, mammals, plants, invertebrates, amphibians and lichens; if it grows, flowers, flies, flutters, crawls, swims, runs or blinks then we want to record it.

“The only previous BioBlitz in Scotland, carried out at the Dalzell Estate, North Lanarkshire in 2007, managed to record 478 species, but hopefully - with the weather on our side - we should be able to exceed that total.  As the number of organisms identified at Holyrood Park starts to grow, and with the added help of the public on Sunday, we’ll be endeavouring to push the total to new heights and achieve a landmark record total for the number of species seen in a BioBlitz over 24 hours.”

A number of very rare plants and animals have been discovered and recorded in Holyrood Park.  Many of these are on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan register of threatened and endangered species, and several are specifically monitored as part of the Edinburgh BAP. These include the county flower of Lothian, Sticky Catchfly - a beautiful pink-flowered relative of the campions -  and Ragged Robin, which was first described to science from specimens in the Park.

The Holyrood BioBlitz will bring together an impressive array of expertise and identification talent in all fields of wildlife. Among the line-up are individuals who have recently discovered new insects in the Park never before found in Scotland, and rediscovered rare plants previously thought extinct in Britain for many years. Also involved are several of the BTCV Natural Talent Apprentices, a Heritage Lottery-funded initiative that aims to fill the gaps in expertise in taxonomy (the practice and science of classification) in the conservation sector. The potential for new and exciting discoveries during BioBlitz is very high, although of course all species identified in the survey are important.

One of the major aims of the event is to raise public awareness of the need to protect and actively conserve our special wildlife - whether of local, national or international significance. On Sunday, a number of displays and exhibits from various biodiversity conservation groups at the Park’s Education Centre, and at marquees beside it, will promote this.

Prominent conservation organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Buglife and BumbleBee Conservation Trust, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust will be attending, as well as more specialised groups which concentrate on the conservation of less-familiar animals and plants. The event is therefore a great opportunity to not only learn about wildlife, but also some of the main issues affecting biodiversity conservation both locally and nationally.

Notes for editors

  • For more information on the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers Scotland (BTCV Scotland), visit

  • The BioBlitz event is funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the BTCV Natural Talent Apprenticeship scheme.

  • Holyrood Park is one of Edinburgh’s most famous and popular historic landmarks. It encompasses a 5-mile radius of land and has probably been a Royal Park since the 12th century. It designated as both an Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest.

  • Holyrood Park cared for by Historic Scotland, which is responsible for maintaining the natural environment and presenting the Park for the enjoyment of the local community and visitors. The Ranger Service based at Holyrood Park cares for this unique historic and natural attraction and provides a range of important educational services.

  • Historic Scotland cares for over 345 heritage properties and sites throughout Scotland, from the Highlands and Islands to the Borders, ranging from prehistoric dwellings to medieval castles, and from cathedrals to industrial buildings. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:

  • Historic Scotland’s mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting Scotland’s Homecoming 2009 with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871