Over the course of 3 years, the All the Moor Butterflies project improved habitat conditions and raised awareness of six of our most threatened butterfly and moth species on Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. The project worked with 146 landowners across 201 sites to deliver gains for these special species. Over 5000 people learnt about the fascinating lives of these wonderful insects and were given opportunities to contribute to their conservation.
The All the Moor Butterflies project worked across some of the regions most spectacular moorland landscapes. Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor host nationally important populations of some of our most threatened species. The project focused on the following species:
- High brown Fritillary – declined in abundance by 62% since 1978 and distribution by 96% since 1976.
- Heath Fritillary – declined in abundance by 87% since 1981 and distribution by 68% since 1976.
- Marsh Fritillary – declined in abundance by 64% since 2005 and distribution by 79% since 1976.
- Pearl-bordered Fritillary – declined in abundance by 71% since 1976.
- Small pearl-bordered Fritillary – declined in abundance by 58% since 1976.
- Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth – declined by 43% (found on Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor).
Starting in January 2017 and finishing in March 2020, the project spent 3 years delivering vital conservation work to safeguard these special species, whilst also engaging people with their conservation. The project was a tremendous success; achieving all of its aims, delivering much-needed habitat management and engaging new audiences. Below are some of the highlights from the project:
- 117 hectares of habitat was improved across 4 demonstration sites. These were: Castle Drogo National Trust on Dartmoor, Heddon Valley & Holnicote Estate National Trust on Exmoor and De Lank quarry and South Penquite farm on Bodmin Moor. It was particularly pleasing to see numbers of the Pearl-bordered Fritillary rise in each year of the project in response to the work done at Castle Drogo.
- An additional 165 hectares of habitat was improved and maintained by volunteers, who attended 80 work parties and contributed 861 days of volunteer time to the project. The work of these dedicated volunteers enabled us to deliver habitat improvements for all six target species across the three moors.
- 841 site visits were carried out, across 201 sites, delivering advice to landowners and farmers. The project provided support to famers to help them look after the species they have on their land.
- 199 sites were monitored for the target species, thanks to help from volunteers. 13,243 adult butterflies, 16 eggs/egg clusters, 1 pupae and 2,835 Marsh Fritillary larval webs were recorded. 33 different species of butterfly were spotted on surveys.
- 109 different species of moth were recorded during the project. One of the highlights was a mating pair of Lunar Hornet Moths, found in the Heddon Valley on Exmoor.
- 907 children living on or near to the moors got involved in the project through educational workshops, field trips, and family events.
- The project worked with six higher education institutions (Universities and Colleges) to provide opportunities for students to learn about the work of the project and get involved with research or habitat management.
- By working in partnership with organisations such as MIND and Devon Recovery Learning Community the project reached out to new audiences who would not usually have the opportunity to visit or learn about the moors or butterflies and moths. We explored how the butterfly is seen as a metaphor for recovery and how they are important for our mental health and wellbeing.
- The project delivered an exhibition on Exmoor focused on fritillary butterflies. Over 8,000 people visited over a 7 month period.
- More than 300 individual volunteers gave their time to the project by helping with surveys, habitat management, and at public events.
- 37 volunteer training workshops were delivered, plus bespoke training for key volunteers which included outdoor first aid, use of brushcutters, and pesticide application.
- The project produced several fantastic new publications to enable people to discover these fabulous butterflies and landscapes. These include: Castle Drogo butterfly postcard, Heddon Valley High Brown Fritillary leaflet, South Penquite Walks leaflet, Butterflies of Dartmoor leaflet, Butterflies of Bodmin Moor leaflet. These are all available to download at the bottom of this webpage.
The delivery of the All the Moor Butterflies project would not have been possible without the support of a wide range of people and organisations. We give our heartfelt thanks to the funders (see below), Butterfly Conservation Branches and members, volunteers, farmers, landowners and partner organisations who all helped to make the project a success.
National Lottery Heritage Fund, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor National Park Authority, Cornwall AONB, Natural England, Papillon Gin, The Burton Foundation Trust, The Doctor & Mrs Alfred Darlington, Butterfly Conservation Devon Branch, Environment Agency, Butterfly Conservation Somerset Branch, Dartmoor Preservation Association, Kate Ashbrook, Butterfly Conservation Cornwall Branch.
Effort in continuing to support the conservation of these species is ongoing. If you would like to get involved by helping with monitoring please get in touch:
Jenny Plackett - Regional Conservation Manager, South West England