Butterfly Conservation is thrilled to be celebrating two wins at the RSPB Scotland’s Nature Awards 2022.

Co-sponsored by NatureScot, the ceremony, on 18th November, recognised those making a strong impact in local communities, businesses, and schools to help nature across Scotland. 

UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) was awarded the Citizen Science award for its brilliant work covering butterfly populations across the UK for over forty years. UKBMS is one of the largest insect monitoring schemes in the world, mainly focusing on fixed transect routes to record butterflies every week using defined methodology. 

The majority of data are collected by volunteer citizen scientists who, after receiving training from UKBMS, conduct the scientifically rigorous recording. In 2021 alone, over 200 volunteers were involved in collecting data at 232 sites across Scotland. 

This programme, which is organised and funded by Butterfly Conservation, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the British Trust for Ornithology and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, has produced long-term trends for butterflies. The data have contributed to numerous publications, including State of UK Butterflies 2015, and contributions to State of Nature studies. As a result, the data collected also help Butterfly Conservation target conservation action where it is most needed. 

Ian Middlebrook, UKBMS Programme Lead, said: “This award is a recognition of the citizen science volunteers who undertake thousands of hours of butterfly monitoring every year. We are extremely fortunate to be supported by people who know the importance of collecting this data carefully, and who enjoy the feeling of getting outside to look for butterflies on sunny days. We value them greatly.” 

Barry Prater accepts his award.
Barry Prater accepts his award.

The awards also celebrated the achievements of Butterfly Conservation volunteer Barry Prater, who was highly commended in the RSPB Species Champion award. Former Chair of Butterfly Conservation’s East of Scotland Branch, Barry has worked tirelessly to protect the Northern Brown Argus, a species affected by declining habitat quality and potential impact of inappropriate tree planting.

To help protect this threatened species, Barry instigated a Borders-wide survey of all known colonies of the species. By organising volunteers, creating survey guidance, and offering endless support to those involved, Barry inspired others to take hundreds of surveys mapping the butterfly’s habitat. Over 40 volunteers took part to survey 158 Northern Brown Argus colonies over 300 survey visits. 

As a result, 1150 adult Northern Brown Argus’ and at least 2300 eggs of the butterfly were recorded. Additionally, information of the potential threats to the species, such as invasion of bracken or scrub, overgrazing, and inappropriate afforestation was also gathered. The surveys have therefore provided excellent information for progressing the cause of the Northern Brown Argus in the Scottish Borders, providing the most detailed information on site status and location on any butterfly or moth in Scotland. 

Tom Prescott, Senior Conservation Officer at Butterfly Conservation commented: “I’m absolutely delighted that Barry’s work to champion the Northern Brown Argus has been recognised through this award. Barry’s dedication has hugely raised the profile of the butterfly in the Scottish Borders and there will be a long-lasting legacy of conservation action from his efforts.”