The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene has undergone major declines in Britain in recent years but especially in central and eastern England. In County Durham it was reduced to four small colonies in 2000 all located along the mid-western boundary of this rolling upland, mainly pastoral, landscape.
From 2002, a programme of management was instigated to secure existing Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary populations and connect up the sites by restoring currently unoccupied habitat patches.
- Scrub control, Bracken management and mowing rank vegetation by volunteers on occupied and some potential sites where vegetation was too dense to support breeding.
- Fencing of breeding habitats by volunteers to control grazing and return vegetation to its optimum height.
- Creation of potential breeding habitat by planting the larval foodplants - Marsh Violet Viola palustris and Common Dog-violet Viola riviniana.
For more detailed information about this project and others across the UK please read the full report: Landscape-scale Conservation For Butterflies And Moths: Lessons From The UK.
- Suitable breeding habitat in this landscape has tripled from 1 to 3 ha.
- Despite a significant 59% national UK decline between 1976-2010, the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary population on monitored sites has increased.
- All restored and created patches supporting suitable breeding habitat have been re-colonised by the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Some of these patches now support larger populations than the original occupied patches.
This project demonstrates that landscape-scale conservation can be successfully applied to quite small areas. Moreover, one of the landowners has been so enthused by the project that he has entered Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship scheme, building an education centre and encouraging children from local schools to assist with practical tasks such as planting shelterbelts and violets, all helping sustain the project achievements.