Butterflies voted most important

Butterflies have been deemed the most important part of the natural environment in a recent public survey.

Anyone with an interest in wildlife was recently invited by DEFRA to help shape the future of England’s nature by putting their thoughts forward regarding nature conservation.

A discussion paper was published on 26 July 2010 entitled “An invitation to shape the nature of England” All comments and submissions from anyone with an interest in the natural environment were welcomed.

The discussion closed on 30 October 2010, with over 15,000 responses.

One of the questions asked in the consultation was “Which part of the natural environment matter most to you?”

Out of the many different types of specific wildlife mentioned, butterflies came out top with many people voting that they were the species they deemed most important. Bees came a close second by public vote.

There are over 58 species of butterfly in the UK but three quarters of British species are in decline. Butterflies and moths have a crucial role as pollinators and provide food for birds and other wildlife. Dwindling populations highlight the failing health of our countryside.

 In the build up to the 2010 General Election, a number of organizations called on the next Government to introduce a White Paper on Nature to identify the policy changes needed to restore our natural environment.

A White Paper is usually the first step towards new laws and is a way for Government to lay out and consult on proposed changes to legislation.

In response to this, the Coalition Government will produce a White Paper on the Natural Environment in spring 2011. The survey was used to start the process by inviting the public to share their views on nature.