Following the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) was developed to focus action by Government, statutory agencies and non-governmental organisations to conserve 'priority' species and habitats.
Under the auspices of the UK BAP, and the regional and local biodiversity action plans that have been developed more recently, great improvements have been made in understanding the status of priority moths and some notable conservation successes achieved.
For moths, UK BAP actions typically involve survey and monitoring work, ecological research, habitat management and safeguarding colonies, as well as providing advice and promoting moth conservation to landowners, site managers, wildlife organisations and the general public.
Currently 81 moths (25 micros and 56 macros) are afforded Priority Species status under the UK BAP (following a review in 2006/07). These are the species which require most urgent conservation effort and many occur on a very small number of sites. The Dark Bordered Beauty (pictured left), for example, is only known from four sites in the whole of Britain.
Butterfly Conservation has produced factsheets for many of the priority moths.
In addition to the 81 scarce and threatened moths mentioned above, a further 71 species were added to the UK BAP at the recent review, but for research purposes only. These are widespread but rapidly declining moths, which were identified in The State of Britain's Larger Moths report. Many of these rapidly declining species are still common and widespread, and normal conservation action is not appropriate for them. The inclusion of these moths in the UK BAP is solely to encourage research by universities and institutes into the causes of decline and ways to reverse the trends.
A list of current UK BAP moths is available here.