Butterfly Conservation’s ‘Building Sites for Butterflies’ programme advocates that our built environment should be better designed and managed to support wildlife, including butterflies and moths.

Small Blue butterfly by Andrew Cooper

Between now and 2022 we are offering practical advice on how to create and look after grasslands in our urban landscape that are not only full of wildflowers and pollinators, but that also cost less to manage than standard amenity grassland.

The Programme Manager is Dr Phil Sterling. Phil was the principal ecological adviser at Dorset County Council for 25 years. He advised on the design of the wildflower banks on the A354 Weymouth Relief Road. Every spring and summer they look stunning, support clouds of butterflies and moths each summer, and cost virtually nothing for the council to manage.

For 4 years Phil looked after the whole of the council’s Countryside Service including the Country Parks, nature reserves and road verges. He and his team pioneered changes in the way the council’s green spaces are managed, changing ordinary grass areas into wildflower meadows to bring back wildlife into the places where people live and work.

Phil’s contact details are:

Dr Phil Sterling - Programme Manager, Building Sites for Butterflies

Email: [email protected]  Direct line: 01929 406030

Follow Phil on Twitter @PhilSterling3

Useful downloads:

Download our ‘Building Sites for Butterflies’ PDF 

Download our ‘Building Sites for Butterflies’ Welsh PDF 


Marbled White - Iain H Leach

How to create grasslands good for wildlife

In the natural world our best grasslands for wildflowers are those that form on soils of lowest fertility. By designing our man-made landscapes in a similar way, finishing them with soils low in nutrients, or with bare mineral such as crushed chalk, we can mimic these conditions. The results can be a spectacular, enhancing our quality of life, and providing habitats full of wildflowers and insects.

Ringlet butterfly in the garden

Encouraging wildflowers to flourish in amenity grassland

By changing our mowing regime to one which cuts and removes the cuttings this can make a big difference to allow wildflowers to thrive in our amenity grasslands. This simple change can make a spectacular difference in just one or two seasons.


Adonis Blue - Tony Cox

Counting the butterflies on the A354 Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset

Since the Weymouth Relief Road opened in 2011, 30 species of butterfly have been recorded by volunteers from Butterfly Conservation on the low-fertility chalk grassland slopes created next to the road. That’s over half of the species known to live in Britain.

Small Copper (upperwing) - Bob Eade

Making road verges buzz with wildlife

With 500,000 km of road verges in the UK just imagine what a resource this would be for wildlife if it were all managed with wildflowers, butterflies and other pollinators in mind. There are simple changes we can make to the way they are managed that will help make this ideal a reality.