Vital Volunteers


This week is Volunteers’ Week, the annual celebration of the positive difference that volunteers make to many aspects of life across the UK, day-in day-out, throughout the year 

The conservation of our threatened and declining butterflies and moths is no exception. Volunteers make a huge and vital contribution to Butterfly Conservation’s work: from the world-leading recording and monitoring schemes that identify species at risk, enable conservation action on the ground, drive ecological research and influence government policy, to practical habitat management improving breeding conditions for scarce species and raising essential funds and awareness. 

The numbers are incredible. Each year tens of thousands of people volunteer with Butterfly Conservation, contributing an estimated 175,000 days of time - the equivalent of 800 full-time staff! Butterfly Conservation Branch volunteers run over 500 conservation work parties every year and more than 1,000 guided walks and talks. Volunteer recorders monitor butterfly populations at over 2,500 sites across the UK annually and have walked 770,000km of butterfly transect since 1976, the equivalent of a trip to the Moon and back! Moth enthusiasts are contributing over 1 million observations per year, all expertly collated, computerised and checked by volunteer County Moth Recorders. 

This altruistic army includes people of all ages and backgrounds, and an amazing range of skills. Some have built-up immense knowledge from a lifetime of Lepidoptera study and utilise this expertise in their roles as County Recorders or Branch Conservation Officers, or educate others through field events and publications such as county atlases. Others are relative newcomers but bring valuable skills in fundraising or publicity, for example, from other walks of life, or simply have energy, enthusiasm and a passion to turnaround the fortunes of these fantastic insects. 

Anyone can get involved and make a real contribution to the conservation of butterflies and moths. Our local Branches and conservation projects across the UK offer many opportunities to help with habitat management, carrying out crucial work to save threatened species in beautiful scenery, having fun and keeping fit while enjoying good company, wildlife and fresh air.

Another easy way to volunteer is by taking part in recording and monitoring. Butterfly Conservation runs a range of different schemes so there is something to suit everyone, no matter how much or little time you have available. For some, contributing garden sightings to the Garden Butterfly Survey or National Moth Recording Scheme is ideal, while others may want to take things further by adopting a Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey square or surveying butterflies and moths in far-flung corners of landscape. The great thing is that all the schemes and sightings provide useful information. 

So, whether wielding a brushcutter, a collection box or a computer mouse, walking a transect, planting caterpillar foodplants, giving talks, leading walks or stuffing envelopes, campaigning or conserving, on behalf of all the staff at Butterfly Conservations, a huge thank you to all our amazing volunteers! 

Get involved this week – see our volunteering pages to find out more.

Richard Fox

Head of Recording

Follow me on Twitter: @RichardFoxBC