'Butterfly Isles' author scoops environmental award

Journalist and author Patrick Barkham has scooped a prestigious environmental award for his long-standing efforts to promote butterflies and their welfare.

Barkham, a feature writer with the Guardian newspaper and author of the acclaimed The Butterfly Isles, is this year's recipient of the Marsh Christian Trust Award for the Promotion of Lepidoptera Conservation.

Through his work, Barkham, 37, was judged to have consistently raised the profile of butterflies and their environmental importance.

His first book - The Butterfly Isles, charts Barkham's attempt in 2009 to see all the UK's butterfly species in the space of a year.

The book garnered widespread acclaim and was short-listed for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje prize.

This summer Barkham played a key role in promoting Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count project - a citizen science scheme encouraging the public to count butterflies.

He took part and publicised a celebrity butterfly hunt across Sussex - writing a report for the Guardian website on his Blackberry whilst bouncing around in the back of a Land Rover.

Dr Martin Warren, chief executive of Butterfly Conservation, said: "Patrick is a superb writer and journalist with a great passion for butterflies and moths. He is a worthy winner of the Marsh Award for the Promotion of Lepidoptera Conservation.

"Through his writing, Patrick has shared his childhood passion for butterflies and given us a unique insight into the species themselves and the people who care for them. He has explained to a wide audience the wonder of these beautiful insects and why it is important to conserve them."

Barkham caught the butterfly bug early - his father John Barkham, a well known ecologist and conservationist, used to regularly take the youngster butterfly-watching around their Norfolk home.

Brian Marsh OBE, chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, said: "A huge congratulations to all the winners. We set up the Marsh Lepidoptera Awards to support specialists in this field and their contributions this year, as in other years, have been outstanding."

The March Lepidoptera Awards, run in association with Butterfly Conservation recognise outstanding contributions to the promotion of Lepidoptera conservation.

Other winners this year include leading entomologist Dr Phil Sterling, lead author of the acclaimed new micro-moth guide - The Field Guide to the Micro-moths of Great Britain and Ireland.

Dr Sterling, Dorset County Council's Natural Environment Manager and Ecologist, receives a Lifetime Achievement in Lepidoptera Conservation Award.

The European Award goes to Professor Christer Wiklund. The Professor of Ecological Zoology at Stockholm University is Europe's senior and most prolific butterfly biologist.