During the 20th century there has been an increasingly rapid decline in woodland butterflies and moths. Butterfly Conservation is working with Forestry Commission England to reverse these declines on their key sites.

Woodland provides the breeding habitat for three-quarters of all English butterflies. The majority of larger moths can also thrive in woodland if it is appropriately managed. 

Butterfly Conservation has been working with the Forestry Commission England on 136 Forestry Commission sites known to be important for butterfly and moth species.

Examples of woodland butterflies:

  • A number of Fritillary butterflies
  • Duke of Burgundy
  • White Admiral
  • Purple Emperor
  • Wood White
  • Brown and Black and White-letter Hairstreaks
  • Chequered, Dingy and Grizzled Skippers

Examples of woodland moths:

  • Drab Looper
  • Argent And Sable
  • Lunar Yellow Underwing
  • Grey Carpet
  • Barberry Carpet
  • Netted Carpet
  • Anania funebris

More information on species associated with woodland and woodland management can be found in the Woodland Management Best Practice Guide and on various species factsheets.

Project Aim

Raise awareness of the butterfly and moth sites on Forestry Commission land and woodland management will be planned to target, conserve and improve populations of threatened butterflies and moths.

Forestry Commission England and Butterfly Conservation staff will be working more closely together.


  • Raising awareness of butterfly sites and the range of species which live there, so there is an understanding of the native species benefitting from the various stages of woodland management. 

  • Visits will be conducted by Butterfly Conservation staff on Forestry Commission sites to carry out habitat assessments, Lepidoptera surveys, practical habitat management (through work parties) and to lead public events and training workshops.

  • Good management will be given priority alongside other woodland activities, like timber harvesting and woodland restoration.

  • Produce a biannual email newsletter for Forestry Commission England staff, local butterfly and moth recorders and BC branches to help with information exchange and promotion of good management.

  • In the West Midlands work as been carried out on 23 sites listed in the strategy, highlights include creating habitat for Wood White and Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

  • In the South East 16 Forestry Commission sites listed in the strategy have been managed through Butterfly Conservation advice.

  • This 10 year programme was reviewed in 2012 and the strategy was updated.

So far the project has been successful with improved management and monitoring for butterflies and moths on a number of Forestry Commission sites, including sites in our important landscape-scale conservation projects.


Caroline Kelly, Conservation Officer, Butterfly Conservation


Forestry Commission England