Moor Butterflies and Moths

Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth

Some of the UK’s rarest and most threatened butterflies and moths are found on semi-natural grassland and moorland. Our grassland species are in more trouble than almost any other group in the UK, as more than 50% of their habitat has been lost or damaged since the 1930s.

Over 44% of England’s remaining semi-natural grassland is in South West England and it is home to an amazing range of beautiful butterflies and moths, including five rare fritillary butterflies, the formerly extinct Large Blue and the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth.

The South West has a significant proportion of England’s Purple Moorgrass and Rush Pastures, known locally as ‘Culm’. This marshy grassland is found mainly in the west of the UK and around 70,000 hectares remain, although much of this land is currently unsuitable for butterflies as it is in poor condition as a result of neglect and under or over-grazing.

As much as 15% of the world’s Upland Heathland (or moorland) occurs in the UK. The UK’s 3.7 million hectares of Upland Heathland are of international importance for nature conservation. Butterfly Conservation has already been making a big difference through our highly successful Two Moors Project on Dartmoor and Exmoor as we begin to reverse decades of decline.

Our experience has shown that if we take action we can give moorland species the very best chance of bouncing back before it is too late.

We plan to launch an ambitious programme to restore, improve and reconnect large areas of habitat, giving vulnerable species the best chance to recover and to re-establish and build sustainable populations.

The proposed project will target three landscape areas in South West England:

• Bodmin Moor in Cornwall
• Dartmoor in Devon
• Exmoor in Devon and Somerset

We will target action for seven key species, which are all Conservation Priorities in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan and subsequent national legislation:

• Marsh Fritillary, Pearl Bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (Dartmoor, Exmoor, Bodmin Moor)
• High Brown Fritillary (Dartmoor, Exmoor)
• Heath Fritillary (Exmoor)
• Large Blue (Dartmoor)
• Narrow Bordered Bee-hawk Moth (Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor)

We are applying to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a substantial grant but for our bid to succeed, we must raise at least 5% of the project costs from our own resources. We must also demonstrate to the HLF that we have significant backing for our plans from the public and from our members.

Our immediate target is to raise at least £20,000 and to attract 1,000 pledges of support for our proposed Lottery-funded project.

Please pledge your support and make a donation today.