There is growing acknowledgement of the importance of biodiversity in the wider countryside. Butterfly populations are an excellent way to monitor the health of an environment.

Marbled White - Iain H Leach

UK butterfly monitoring currently focuses on nature reserves and butterfly-rich places. This has led to a lack of monitoring in vast areas of the wider countryside. These areas include farmland, plantation woodland, uplands and urban green spaces

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), run by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), has developed a new Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) method to gauge the changing abundance of widespread species in the general countryside.

70% of the UK’s land is in agricultural use. It is essential that butterflies in these areas are monitored to gauge the health of our countryside.

Over 600 dedicated volunteers surveyed more than 760 squares as part of the nationwide WCBS launch in 2009. The WCBS benefits from an excellent partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology Breeding Bird Survey recorders. 

What's involved?

The method involves making a minimum of two visits to a randomly selected square near between May and August to count butterflies along two 1km survey lines running roughly north-south through the square. The survey will be co-ordinated centrally by Butterfly Conservation but with the help of a WCBS Champion in each Branch. The aim for this year is to resurvey all squares covered last year and more, so if you would like to take part, please do get in touch.

Visit the UKBMS website for more details and copies of instructions and recording forms.

Already take part in the WCBS? Login/register on UKBMS to enter your records.



    For more information or to take part this year, email @email


    The project is funded by a Defra-led consortium of government agencies and runs parallel to UKBMS transect monitoring, and to the Butterflies for the New Millennium distribution records project.