Great Britain is wonderfully rich in mosses and liverworts, with more than 1,000 species of mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) - about 60% of the entire European bryophyte flora.
Because of its geographical position, the British climate is mainly warm and wet, so conditions are ideal for bryophytes. This means that many species of very restricted international distribution are relatively abundant in Britain. From the spectacularly mossy 'temperate rainforest' ravines of the west and north to the tiny ephemeral species found in arable fields in the south-east, bryophytes are everywhere. Many of the rarest and most beautiful are under threat, and it is these species that the new Red Data Book documents, with details on their distribution, ecology, threats and conservation requirements. The threats to bryophytes are many, and include overgrazing, undergrazing, the widespread use of herbicides and fertilisers, climate change and the spread of urbanisation. 176 species are given full species accounts, with a further 76 species listed as 'near threatened'.
The result of collaborative effort between the statutory conservation agencies and voluntary organisations such as the British Bryological Society and Plantlife, this Red Data Book uses information distilled from the expertise of many past and present British botanists. Already the information it contains is contributing to the species conservation programmes being co-ordinated by the UK government's Biodiversity Steering Group. This is the latest in a series of botanical Red Data Books published by JNCC, previous titles including vascular plants, lichens and stoneworts