Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Bob Eade

This project delivered invaluable conservation work in Sussex for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary between 2015 and 2018.

The Pearl-bordered Fritillary had been reduced to just three Sussex colonies. The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary had been lost from the county in 2013.

The project also aimed to provide opportunities for people in Sussex to learn about and help to conserve these rare and threatened butterflies. The project organised activities and provided training to equip people with the skills and knowledge they need to continue the conservation work beyond the funded project.

Key species


A total of 41 woodland sites were visited in the course of this project, with 17 of these already under active management for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, or both species. Management advice has been provided to the owners or managers of most of the remaining sites. A total of 90 stakeholder meetings were held for 554 participants.

A vast amount of habitat management work was delivered conducted on these sites, and more is planned for the future; several forests and large woods have been restructured to assist with the aims of this project. The work has been performed by landowners, contractors, partner organisations, students from a local agricultural college, and volunteers drawn from many different sources.

Following this targeted habitat management and careful planning the Pearl-bordered Fritillary was reintroduced at two sites in West Sussex.

Following further targeted habitat management, the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary was reintroduced to two sites in East Sussex in 2017.


  • 34 guided walks were provided for 647 participants.
  • 26 talks were delivered to a total audience of 1,169.
  • Five events were held for primary school children and scouts, with 134 participants.
  • 26 training events were held for a total of 311 volunteers, in skills including butterfly identification, butterfly monitoring, habitat assessment, use of brushcutter, use of chainsaw, coppicing, practical woodland management and emergency first aid.
  • Two woodland management leaflets were produced (see links below).
  • Four training events were held for a total of 99 professionals, in skills including coppiced woodland management, ride management, portable sawmilling and the uses of Sweet Chestnut.
  • A small film was produced: 

The Pearl-bordered Fritillary populations at the last remaining Sussex sites have been strengthened or rescued from imminent extinction. Indications from the two reintroduction sites are that these were successful, however ongoing long-term monitoring will be required to assess this and learn from it.

The success of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary reintroduction can only be fully assessed based upon the ongoing monitoring of these sites. However, we and our project partners have learned a huge amount from this work and we hope this will inform future conservation efforts.

The project has made a great deal of progress for these butterflies and there is much cause for optimism, particularly as the work continues beyond the funded period of this project.


  • Forestry England
  • South Downs National Park Authority
  • RSPB
  • Natural England
  • Plumpton College
  • Butterfly Conservation’s Sussex Branch

Project Funders

Small pearl-bordered fritillary - Iain H Leach

Butterfly Conservation would like to thank: the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust and all BC members and supporters for funding this project; plus the additional grant-givers, Veolia Environmental Trust and Rampion Mitigation Fund.

Project Acknowledgements
The support and cooperation of many landowners and land managers was greatly appreciated. These include the Norfolk Estate, Cowdray Estate, Stansted Park Foundation, Angmering Park Estate, Wiston Estate, Murray Downland Trust, Graffham Down Trust, Vert Woods Community Woodland and many private individuals.

Finally, we would like to thank the many volunteers from the South Downs Volunteer Ranger Service, Brighton Conservation Volunteers, BC Sussex Branch and general public, who have worked so hard to save our fritillaries.

Where to Visit  

Butterfly Conservation’s Park Corner Heath reserve

Abbots Wood


Steve Wheatley (Regional Conservation Manager for South East England)
Twitter: @steve4nature

Butterfly Conservation’s Sussex Branch