First nature reserve for rare butterfly

The rare Large Heath butterfly now has it's own nature reserve in Wester Moss near the village of Fallin, Stirling.

The reserve, which is the only one in the UK, is a partnership project between Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Stirling Council and the local community. The 30 hectare site is already designated as nationally important (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to it being a Lowland Raised Bog - a very scarce and declining habitat with nearly 90% of its former area having been lost in Scotland.

The Large Heath Butterfly lives on boggy peatlands that support its food plant, Hare's-tail Cottongrass. The butterfly is still widespread on the blanket bogs of north and west Scotland, but in the rest of the UK is confined to Lowland Raised Bogs. The biggest threat to the butterfly is the practice of extracting peat from the bogs for horticultural use.

Wester Moss is threatened from past drainage and the encroachment of scrub, both of which act to dry out the site. This is bad news for the plants that live on the bog and depend on the damp conditions.

Butterfly Conservation and Stirling Council recently held their first workparty on the site when local volunteers came along to help remove seedlings. Work later in the year will include the blocking of ditches with plastic sheeting and the removal of more self-seeded Birch, Pine and Rhododendron.

Stirling Council Ranger Jennifer Davidson said: " It is fantastic that we have managed to work together to get Wester Moss adopted as a Butterfly Conservation reserve, which will not only benefit the butterflies and the bog, but also visitors from near and far".

If you live near Wester Moss and would like to get involved, contact Alex HoggCommunity Participation Officer, Butterfly Conservation Scotland.