Boost for rare butterfly in forest stronghold

The future of one of the West Midlands rarest butterflies has been given a major boost.

The Wyre Forest, straddling Worcestershire and Shropshire, is one of the UK’s key strongholds for the rapidly declining Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

A £119k grant awarded by the SITA Trust to Butterfly Conservation will ensure the butterfly, which has lost almost half of its remaining sites in England over the past 15 years, survives in the forest for future generations to enjoy. 

The Reconnecting the Wyre project will enable more open areas to be created within the forest and will involve local coppice workers and volunteers in carrying out vital conservation work.

The existence of open space is especially important for butterflies which need open sunny rides and clearings.

The Pearl-bordered Fritillary requires abundant violets near which it lays its eggs and the Reconnecting the Wyre project, through targeted management, will seek to encourage the butterfly to colonise new areas.

Dr Jenny Joy, Butterfly Conservation’s Senior Regional Officer in the West Midlands who will manage the project said: “We are delighted to have been successful in acquiring funding for this hugely important project. 

“As a result of past conservation work, we know just how significant Wyre Forest now is for butterflies which are rapidly disappearing elsewhere.

“We are pleased to be able to continue working with Natural England and the Forestry Commission as good habitat management is key to continued success.”

The Reconnecting the Wyre project will run for the next three years and involve partnership work between Butterfly Conservation, the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

The project will take place on land which forms part of the Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve managed by Natural England as well as on land managed by the Forestry Commission. 

The Wyre Forest consists of 2,634 hectares of ancient woodland and is one of the most ecologically diverse forests in England.