Clean-up for conservation

Turning Point and Natural England are helping reformed alcoholics and drug addicts to leave the past behind by joining forces for an environmental project near Bridgewater.

This project was targeted to improve Shapwick Heath for the rare Argent & Sable moth, following habitat management advice from Butterfly Conservation.

The addicts on a rehabilitation programme with Turning Point Somerset have been hard at work creating an environment to encourage the growth of Bog Myrtle and birch, the main food plants for the Argent and Sable moth.

The insect has been in significant decline in recent years in  England and Wales and is a priority species in the government’s UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Shapwick Heath, on the Somerset Levels Wetlands near Bridgewater, is one of only eight key sites for the moth in England.

The group of recovering addicts have joined forces with Natural England, cutting and removing scrub to create scallops, which provide sun, shade and shelter for the moth.

Bernadette Noake, conservation officer for Butterfly Conservation said: “This summer many Argent and Sable caterpillars were found in the glades created by volunteers this winter, demonstrating the great contribution that volunteers can make to the conservation of this important moth and other wildlife which have similar habitat requirements”.

Butterfly Conservation and Natural England are on the lookout for additional volunteers to help. Anyone interested should contact Bernadette Noake on 01929 406004 or Simon Clarke on 01458 860 120.