Working For The Wood White

Wood White (underwing)

Urgent action is required to conserve the Wood White in many parts of the UK. This delicate butterfly has suffered serious declines over many decades and it is now currently one of the UK’s top five most threatened species.

The Wood White is highly vulnerable because of changes in traditional woodland management, which have led to the loss and destruction of the precious habitat it requires.

The Wood White needs our help.

It is well-known that the Wood White is a weak flyer and natural re-colonisation of sites from which it has been lost is less likely once any remaining patches of good habitat become fragmented and isolated within dense woodland.

The future of this species in parts of the UK could be decided in the next few years, especially if we continue to get poor spring weather during the butterfly’s early flight season.

Butterfly Conservation has run several projects in the Midlands, and more recently in seven Northamptonshire woods, targeting conservation management specifically to benefit the Wood White. The results of this work have been encouraging. In South Shropshire Woods over 46 hectares of potential breeding habitat was restored on eight sites. Wood White breeding habitat has been increased on three-quarters of the managed woodland rides and tracks where we have been working.

In Northamptonshire, 6.5 kilometres of woodland rides have so far been cleared, including the all important ditches and banks favoured for breeding. Last summer Wood Whites were sighted at every project site except one. Impressive numbers of Wood White were counted in the first year after the woodland management was carried out including 70 at Sywell Wood, 53 at Hazelborough Forest South and 23 at Bucknell Wood. The cleared woodland rides were also full of wildflowers and orchids, such as the Common Spotted Orchid, and in places even the Greater Butterfly Orchid was found.

As a result of these successes, we have decided to give top priority to the development of further projects over the next few years to significantly increase the high quality habitat the Wood White needs to survive in the woodland of Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Northamptonshire.

We know we cannot change the weather but by creating, restoring and improving suitable habitat in these areas, we can give this butterfly the best chance to build stronger and more resilient populations, which are more likely to cope with poor seasonal weather.

Please help us to give the Wood White a long-term future.

We want to launch an ambitious programme to restore and reconnect even more large areas of good woodland habitat to give the Wood White the best chance to recover and re-establish sustainable populations following decades of decline.

We will also work closely with woodland owners to create and improve habitat on land close to the existing sites where the Wood White is known to occur.

This is a long-term project and it will be challenging work, but we think it would be a tragedy to lose this beautiful, fragile butterfly from our woodlands.

Please make a donation today.