Butterfly Task Force Q&A

Hoverfly on soup

We've answered some of your questions about the Butterfly Task Force here...

What do we do with all the timber and brash that arises from conservation work to benefit High Brown Fritillaries?

The usual choice is firewood, habitat piles or bonfire.

Local coppice worker, Sam Ansell, ran a training workshop at Yealand Hall Allotment and now the volunteers can make:

  • Charcoal
  • Bean and pea sticks
  • Hedging stakes
  • Faggots – used to protect riverbanks from erosion
  • Mallets
  • Woven hazel hurdles

All these products could be sold to pay towards work in the future.

Why are the task force volunteers out every week felling, dragging, chopping and burning?

In a winter season the volunteers work hundreds of hours because they:

  • like working outdoors
  • like meeting people
  • wanted something to do now retired
  • wanted to keep fit
  • want to help conserve butterflies
  • live near the Butterfly Conservation Reserve

What is the volunteers' favourite soup?

Task Force volunteers enjoy hot lunches when they have a bonfire on site and tins of soup warm up in minutes in the hot ashes.
A survey of the Lancashire and Cumbria task force volunteers votes Curried Parsnip as top for vegetarians and Pea and Ham for Meaties. The Marmalade Hoverflies like it as well!

What to do about brambles - a thorny problem?

Brambles can spread quickly over grassland and newly coppiced areas, smothering out the violets and other flowers that the butterflies need.  But they are hard to control.  The usual methods used are:

  • Brush cut and rake
  • Hand cut and rake
  • Dig out
  • Snip below ground level
  • Herbicide

We are trialling all the methods to see what works best at Yealand Hall Allotment and welcome any ideas and suggestions.

What has “the co-operative” got to do with Butterfly Conservation?

The co-operative group, through their “Join the Revolution” scheme is funding part of the MBBTF and hosting displays in eight of their foodstores around Morecambe Bay. Co-op Green Revolution Schools are going to be learning more about butterflies through activities in school, improving school grounds, moth nights and butterfly walks in summer.
Watch this space!

To burn or not to burn - that is the question?

Compare burning to leaving brash piles
Costs Benefits
Air pollution and contribution to CO2 in atmosphere Creates maximum clear ground for woodland flowers used by butterflies
Damaging to soil and habitat of burn site Prevents development of bramble piles over brash heaps
Removes nutrients from woodland cycle  
Allows easy access for livestock to grassland
Time consuming Keeps volunteers warm and provides lunch!
Loss of habitat for birds and small mammals  

How to reduce costs? 

  • Use a fire platform.
  • Do not burn dead or rotting wood, leave it scattered.
  • Make proper habitat piles or wigwams to suit variety of other wildlife.
  • Use brash to protect coppice stools from grazing by deer or livestock.