Our work seeks to help the development of new land management support schemes by combining the latest scientific evidence and Butterfly Conservation’s practical experience of working with farmers and land owners on the ground.
This consists of an evidence review of the ingredients needed for successful agricultural support schemes which has been summarised in a leaflet. We are distributing this to a range of decision-makers, partner organisations and stakeholders as the start of our contribution to the development of the content of future schemes.
The recent State of Nature 2019 report provides an up to date assessment of the state of the UK’s wildlife. The overall picture is one of an ongoing and relentless long-term decline and our butterflies and moths have been particularly hard-hit, with decreases in average abundance in both butterflies (16%) and moths (25%). Things must not, and should not, be like this. At Butterfly Conservation, we have a proven track record of showing how to both halt and then reverse species declines. There are many examples across the UK including the spectacular recovery of the Duke of Burgundy in South East England and securing the last remaining Welsh population of the High Brown Fritillary in the Vale of Glamorgan.
The State of Nature report also identifies the key drivers of wildlife decline, one of the most significant being changes in the way land is managed. For decades Butterfly Conservation has worked alongside farmers and land managers across the UK to conserve butterflies, moths and other wildlife with some excellent examples published in our 2012 ‘Landscape-scale Conservation’ report. These examples show that targeted and grant-funded wildlife-friendly farming can halt and reverse wildlife declines, but to date, this has not been delivered on a big enough scale.
There are now opportunities to overhaul agricultural payments and agri-environment schemes. With the growing recognition of the crisis facing wildlife, there is a chance to use the £3bn currently spent on agricultural support in a much more effective way. Support for land management schemes is devolved to the UK countries. If we can get the different schemes in each country right, our knowledge and experience indicate there is real potential to halt and reverse the declines in butterflies, moths and other wildlife in line with the new and potentially transformative change in policy direction.
It is vital for our butterflies and moths that we maintain our partnership working with all land managers to help create a different, brighter future. It is necessary but not enough to simply highlight the problems and relentless declines in wildlife. We also want to bring forward solutions because we know what works, there have been successes (but not enough) and there is now an urgent need to build on these successes and scale them up. We look forward to contributing to the debate and helping create a world filled with butterflies and moths which is truly fit for our children and young people.