The High Brown Fritillary is critically endangered. This majestic fast-flier was once found darting through woodland clearings across much of England and Wales but owing to the 96% decline in its distribution since the 1970s, it has become our fastest declining butterfly.
In the UK the High Brown Fritillary now only remains in Exmoor, Dartmoor, Morecambe Bay Limestones and South Cumbria Low Fells and the Glamorgan Brackenlands.
If you head into the woods and hills around Morecambe Bay, in Cumbria and Lancashire, you will find yourself in a staggeringly beautiful landscape. The ground is peppered with outcrops of rock rising from a sea of grass and Bracken. Ash and ancient Yew trees huddle together in woodland, forming islands of green amid the grey stone. These limestone pavements, created by glaciers in the ice age, have harboured our largest population of High Brown Fritillaries for many years.
Through a long-standing programme of habitat management, we have created and maintained the very specific conditions this species needs to survive. It was a huge relief to see butterfly populations begin to stabilise in this stronghold as a result of our work. But something has changed. Despite conservation efforts leading to a brief reversal in the butterfly’s fortunes, its alarming decline has resumed – and we don’t know precisely why.
Your donation will help discover why the High Brown Fritillary is struggling and enable us to halt and reverse the recent declines. We have kept the High Brown Fritillary safe for more than 25 years. It would be truly devastating if we had to witness the demise of this beautiful butterfly.