All the better for moorland butterflies

Marsh Fritillary Butterfly

 The decline of three of the UK’s most threatened butterflies could be reversed across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset with the launch of a ground-breaking conservation project.

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) has been awarded more than £318,000 for the ‘All the Moor Butterflies’ project by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

These funds will help to restore and create habitat for the High Brown Fritillary, Heath Fritillary and Marsh Fritillary on some of the UK’s most famous moorland landscapes – Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor.

High Brown Fritillary butterfly by Iain H LeachThese three butterflies are in serious decline due to habitat loss and changes in land management, with a 70% reduction in their distribution recorded over the last 40 years.

The 'All the Moor Butterflies' project will help these butterflies and will also benefit a number of other species which are struggling. This includes the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and the nationally scarce Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth. This stunning bumble-bee mimic which can still be seen visiting plants in across the South West the daytime from mid-April until July.

The ‘All the Moors Butterflies’ project will help volunteers, landowners and farmers to learn more about these charismatic species and discover how they can help them recover and thrive.

Training days, guided walks, butterfly surveys and conservation work parties will be held across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset over the next three years to encourage the public to get involved with the project.

Landowners and farmers will also be invited to visit demonstration sites set up by BC and their project partners to advise on and showcase the type of land management work that would benefit these species.

Heath Fritillary Butterfly by Iain H LeachJenny Plackett, Butterfly Conservation’s South West Regional Officer, said: “We are really delighted to have been awarded this grant. Volunteers are at the heart of our work saving threatened species, but with this project we will be able to offer opportunities for a whole new audience, including young people and those with mental health problems, to have access to these landscapes, enjoy their unique wildlife and take an active role in conservation. With everyone working together, we hope to secure the future of our moorland butterflies and other wildlife as well.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Beautiful and a source of inspiration for writers and scientists through the centuries, butterflies are an integral part of healthy landscapes and of our natural heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this project which will enable volunteers, landowners and farmers to play a role in creating a bright future for a number of threatened species on our moorlands.” 

The project will launch across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset in January. To find out more information please contact Jenny Plackett at: Jplackett@butterfly-conservation.org

Marsh Fritillary Butterfly by Andy SeelyButterfly Conservation are recruiting a Conservation Officer and Community Engagement Officer for the ‘All the Moor Butterflies’ project.

Closing date for applications: 9am on Monday 28th November 2016. Interviews will be held at Butterfly Conservation’s Head Offices in Dorset on Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th December 2016.

Acknowledgements

Butterfly Conservation is also working in partnership with the National Trust, Natural England, the Environment Agency, Cornwall AONB, Dartmoor National Park Authority and Exmoor National Park Authority to develop the ‘All the Moor Butterflies’ HLF project.