Builders save butterflies

Leading building materials company CEMEX has scooped an award for their dedication to the Small Blue butterfly

Butterfly Conservation's Promotion of Lepidoptera Conservation Award recognises outstanding contributions by either an individual or an organisation.

CEMEX UK has been working with Butterfly Conservation in Warwickshire to ensure the survival of the beautiful Small Blue, which is already extinct in neighbouring counties as well as many other areas of the UK.

Warwickshire is now the last county in the Midlands where the Small Blue survives, but numbers have fallen by 87 per cent in recent years.

In 2007, CEMEX funded a Small Blue recovery project, with fantastic results.

Not only did the project clear the way for Kidney Vetch - the only food plant of Small Blue caterpillars - to grow, but the conservation work also resulted in the Grizzled Skipper, another vulnerable UK butterfly suffering declines, colonising the site.

Following on from this success, CEMEX became a major partner in another Butterfly Conservation project: 'Bringing Back the Small Blue'. Work continues to improve habitat for the Small Blue and other species across a minimum of 18 sites in Warwickshire. The project is only half way through but has already had major successes, including a further three Small Blue sites being colonised, doubling the number of colonies in the area, with potential for others.

Other notable success stories emerging as a result of work supported by CEMEX include the threatened Dingy Skipper colonizing two new sites. Both butterflies are classified as vulnerable according to the recently released Red List assessment of Britain's dwindling butterfly population.

Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, said: "Butterflies are struggling to survive across Britain and I am delighted that such an influential company has realised their importance. CEMEX's work is a marvellous example of how industry can help our declining wildlife."

Ian Southcott, Community Affairs Manager for Cemex, added: "We are delighted to receive this award and accept it as recognition of many years of partnership work with Butterfly Conservation. It is brilliant that our habitat work with the Small Blue has achieved tremendous results. This award coincides with the launch of CEMEX UK's biodiversity strategy that will see the establishment of 1,000 hectares of priority habitat up to 2020."

Brian Marsh OBE, Chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, said: "Things are not always as they appear and one would not have expected a cement manufacturing company to receive a Lepidoptera Conservation Award. However, if the world's industrial companies were to follow the example of CEMEX, the planet would be a safer and better place."

Butterfly Conservation has also honoured two outstanding volunteers in the world of butterflies and moths. Roy Leverton has been given the Marsh Award for Lifetime Achievement in Lepidoptera Conservation for his work on butterfly and moth recording, together with his beautiful photographs highlighted in a marvellous book, Enjoying Moths. Lazaros Pamperis has been given the Marsh Award for the conservation of Lepidoptera in Europe for his lifetime's work studying and documenting the butterflies of Greece, culminating in his prestigious book The Butterflies of Greece.