Pollen is a very important source of information for botanists because it is small and can be preserved in large numbers for thousands years in the right conditions. Different plant species produce pollen that has a characteristic appearance.
The European Pollen Monitoring Programme (EPMP) is a new initiative aimed at increasing the precision with which pollen analysts can interpret fossil pollen diagrams. The Programme is a Working Group of the Holocene Commission of the International Quaternary Association (INQUA). The aims of the Programme are 1) to study patterns of pollen influx across natural and anthropogenic tree-lines, 2) to look for pollen assemblages that are characteristic of a range of forest types across Europe and 3) to improve our understanding of the quantitative relationship between vegetation communities and the pollen they produce.
Already there are more than 22 transects established across Europe. Heather Pardoe and Heather Tinsley are the two British co-ordinators of the Programme. They have transects set up in Snowdonia, West Wales, the Forest of Dean and on Exmoor. Heather Pardoe is co-ordinating a meeting of EPMP participants in Cardiff in April 2000.