This project has helped to improve and extend breeding habitat for Pearl-bordered Fritillary across three Forestry Commission sites in Devon.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary is one of the fastest declining butterflies in the UK. A third of English colonies became extinct between 1997 and 2004, leaving an estimated 170 sites where the butterfly was resident. This number has since decreased further to approximately 140 sites (2010- 2012).

In England a higher proportion of colonies are lost from woodland, compared to grassland. Targeted woodland management for Pearl-bordered Fritillary is vitally important.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary requires abundant violets, usually Common Dog-violet Viola riviniana, growing in short, sparse vegetation with sufficient leaf litter or dead Bracken. To achieve suitable habitat for Pearl-bordered Fritillary in woodlands, active management is required, which can include; coppicing, scrub control, Bracken control, clear-felling and ride management.

The Saving Devon’s Precious Pearls project was completed in March 2014. The three year SITA funded project focussed on three Forestry Commission sites in the Haldon Forest district of Devon. The project has improved more than 3 ha of habitat for Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Project Aim

The project has improved and extended breeding habitat for Pearl-bordered Fritillary across three Forestry Commission sites in the Haldon Forest district, Devon.


Ride widening and Scallopped Edges

  • Monitoring of vegetation and butterfly abundance was undertaken at all sites to assess management requirements and success of work undertaken.
  • Delivery of management including scrub and Bracken control, coppicing and clear-felling.
  • Planting of the larval foodplant, Common Dog-violet.
  • Public engagement activities to increase awareness and encourage ongoing voluntary involvement in the future monitoring of the sites.


  • Over a hectare of conifer has been clear-felled providing a direct flight route between two breeding areas, encouraging better connectivity.
  • 3.8 ha of scrub control and ride scalloping has been undertaken.
  • 1.7ha of stump grinding has been undertaken in areas where felling had previously been carried out, to enable these areas to be managed by mowing in the future.
  • 1.7ha bramble control has been carried out.
  • 3660 violet plug plants have been planted to increase the frequency of the foodplant.
  • Public engagement activities over the three year project have included 11 volunteer work tasks (resulting in a total of 88 volunteer days), a guided walk (attended by 26 people), and two Pearl-bordered Fritillary identification and recording training workshops (attended by 38 people).
  • The butterfly has been recorded in new areas of the forest, suggesting management is encouraging butterfly movement.


Jenny Plackett, South West Regional Conservation Manager


SITA Trust and Butterfly Conservation Members and Donors.