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Welcome to Make the Small Things Count

© Andrew Macdonald

© Andrew Macdonald

A project in south west England focussing on the lichens and mosses of Atlantic Woodlands: 

Make the Small Things Count is a project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with financial support from partners including Exmoor National Park Authority, Dartmoor National Park Authority, the British Lichen Society, The Quantock Hills AONB and  North Devon Coast AONB. Over the next two years, thousands of people will have the opportunity to learn about the wonderful Atlantic woodlands that are found in Devon and Somerset, and discover their hidden treasures.


What are Atlantic woodlands?

Atlantic woodlands are natural or semi natural woodlands found in western Britain and Ireland where the climate is mild and wet. These conditions are ideal for a range of important lichens. Atlantic woodlands are enchanting and mysterious places and have often been compared to tropical rainforests because of their luxuriant growth of lichens, ferns mosses and liverworts. Atlantic woodlands are a very rare habitat, found only in a handful of locations around the world.

What are lower plants?

So often unnoticed, but vital for the functioning of ecosystems, our lichens and mosses form miniature forests within forests.  Lichens and mosses are known collectively as lower plants. These plants are able to grow in inhospitable places such as on the bark of trees and bare rocks using only sunlight and rainfall to grow.


Lobaria pulmonaria (c) Ray Woods-Plantlife

Lobaria pulmonaria (c) Ray Woods-Plantlife

A lichen is made up of a fungus and an alga. The fungus forms the main body of the lichen providing protection for the alga while the alga manufactures food using the sun's energy (photosynthesis).  Each lichen has its own distinct species of fungus but all lichens share just a small number of algae species; in most cases this is a green alga. Lichens can thrive in the most apparently inhospitable environments and can be found on every continent.


Orthotrichum affine (c) Dominic Price-Plantlife

Orthotrichum affine (c) Dominic Price-Plantlife

Mosses are very small plants that usually only grow a few centimetres tall. They absorb moisture through their leaves, unlike other plants that use their roots. Mosses act like sponges and can absorb huge amounts of water.

So what are we up to?

The Make the Small Things Count project has now finished. You can read the final evaluation report here.

  • *New* Wild Plant Walks: We have produced 4 walk leaflets focussed on lichens in the Devon and Somerset countryside; Will you explore Exmoor, discover Dartmoor, go on a woodland adventure at the Marsland Nature Reserve, or step into history in the wonderful Quantocks? There is a walk just waiting for you. Why not open your eyes to the wonderful world of lichens? You can download these in the resources section below.
  • Handbook for Woodland Managers: Lichens and Bryophytes of Atlantic Woodland in South West England  We have produced practical guidance for woodland managers in managing their sites for important lichen and bryophyte communities. Our woodland management handbook is now available for download. To request a free hard copy please fill in our online form here.atlanticwoodlandcover


  • Guide2 RIGHT SIZELichen identification guides for lobarion and parmelion lichens - see resources section below to download your free set!
  • Mosses and liverworts of Atlantic Woodlands of Southwest England, is a photographic guide that can be downloaded from our resource section below.
  • Lower plant ID workshops: We are delivering a series of lower plant workshops in the South West for the local community and volunteers. The workshops are aimed at those interested in monitoring and assessing local Atlantic woodland and these sessions will provide an introduction to ID skills. Please have a look at our events page for future dates.
  • Lower plants roadshow is being delivered by a team of volunteers in the Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park. Through this roadshow the public will have the chance to become more familiar with the lower plants. For upcoming events, see below.
  • School bot adv RIGHT SIZEResources for schools "The woodland lower plants challenge" are available to order now! These encourage children to work scientifically in a woodland environment. To order copies for your school, click here.

PrintThank you to The Ernest Cook Trust for supporting and helping to produce our Meadow and Woodland resources.

  • 2 trees bot advResources for families "Two trees challenge" are available to request - see resources section below for more details.
  • Lichen apprenticeship scheme is combatting the chronic shortage of experts who can identify,survey and monitor lichens. Over 30 apprentices are taking part in a series of workshops and training events run by the British Lichen Society.

Photography Exhibition 2015-2016

Explore the wondrous woodlands of the south west and the amazing lower plants that grow there.

Please visit the online gallery to see the winning photographs.

Please download the:


If you are interested in helping people to learn about the amazing world of Atlantic woodlands and the lower plants that thrive there, please contact for more information on how to get involved. These opportunities are available in the Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park areas and are supported by the Quantock Hills AONB and Exmoor National Park Authority/The Pavilion Project.


  • Thank you to The Ernest Cook Trust for supporting and helping to produce our Meadow and Woodland resources.