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Butterfly Survival Blueprint Unveiled

by Butterfly Conservation
Date: 05/11/2012

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Restoring and joining up habitat will prevent the UK's threatened butterflies and moths from becoming extinct in the future, a ground breaking report today revealed.

For the first time, the report by Butterfly Conservation provides concrete evidence that projects aimed at conserving butterflies and moths at a landscape-scale have enabled threatened species to flourish after decades of decline. A landscape-scale approach works by improving and connecting land for wildlife by the coordinated conservation management of numerous sites for a range of species across a large natural area.

The report, Landscape-scale conservation for butterflies and moths: lessons from the UK, also shows that measures to conserve rare butterflies and moths have helped other threatened species as well as the habitats in which they live.

Butterflies are the most threatened wildlife group; more than three-quarters of Britain's 57 resident species are declining and over 40% are listed as Priorities for Conservation. More than 80 moth species are also at risk.

Most threatened species are now confined to small patches of habitat that have been left isolated within the modern intensively managed countryside.

For over a decade, Butterfly Conservation has adopted a landscape-scale approach to conserving these areas in order to manage existing habitats more effectively and link them with newly restored habitats.

This combination of targeted management and restoration has allowed many species to flourish in each of the 12 landscapes covered in the report.

One of the successful projects demonstrating the success of a landscape approach was the Small Blue recovery project based in Southam Warwickshire. In this Landscape the Small Blue was brought back from the brink of a regional extinction. Not only were the 3 remaining threatened Small Blue colonies saved but 5 further sites were colonised as a result of conservation action. This success could not have been achieved with the enthusiastic support of key land owners

Stephen Trotter, Chief Executive of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust said "I am delighted that the Small Blue has colonised two of our grassland nature reserves at Ufton Fields and Stockton Cutting. This is wonderful news for this important species and I would like to warmly thank all of the volunteers and partners who have worked so hard to achieve this success. I would especially like to pay tribute to the outstanding enthusiasm and energy of Mike Slater, Butterfly Conservation's Project Officer, who was instrumental and key to the success of the project."

Ian Southcott, CEMEX community Affairs Manager said "We are delighted to have played a key part in the success of this project creating suitable habitat in seven areas and helping to maintain the largest colony in the West Midlands Region."

The report lends weight to the recent Government paper by ecologist Professor Sir John Lawton Making Space for Nature which states that we must make habitats far bigger, better managed and more connected if species are to survive in the future. Sir John said: "The Butterfly Conservation report shows what can be achieved through a highly focused species-led approach."

"Very simply 'more, bigger, better and joined' works, and needs to be rolled out far more widely. Recreating, restoring and joining up habitats benefits not just butterflies and moths, but a host of other creatures with which they share their habitat."

The Government has recently announced a £7.5 million funding for 12 Nature Improvement Areas to pilot the landscape approach across a range of species and habitats. The report provides crucial evidence that this approach works.

Dr Sam Ellis, Butterfly Conservation Head of Regions, said: "Our report shows that landscape-scale conservation works for our most threatened species. We now need to raise the funds to implement landscape projects across the UK to halt the dramatic decline of butterflies and moths."

Butterfly Conservation is calling on government to provide more funding for landscape-scale initiatives and targeted species conservation in order to reverse the decline in biodiversity and achieve the government's 2020 targets on biodiversity.

Key lessons from landscape-scale conservation The report lists a series of important lessons that need to be learnt to allow this approach to be effective in reversing the decline of other wildlife groups.

1. Careful targeting of management, both across the site network and within each site, is essential to maximise the chances of success.

2. Extinction of species on small, isolated sites need not be inevitable if they are properly managed. Landscape-scale conservation can be applied across quite small areas.

3. Skilled project officers are essential, providing the link between landowners and managers, partner organisations, funders, contractors and volunteers.

4. Landscape-scale projects must be underpinned by sound ecological research and high quality monitoring to assess their effectiveness.

5. Projects focused on a single butterfly or moth can and do benefit a suite of other species which have broadly similar habitat requirements.

6. Short-term funding (e.g. Landfill Communities Fund) is invaluable for the restoration phase of landscape-scale projects, but well-designed agri-environment and woodland grant schemes are needed to sustain success.

7. The maintenance of existing high quality habitat is more cost effective in the long run than restoration management of sites which have become badly degraded.

8. Landscape-scale conservation always involves partnership working through a shared vision and action on the ground.


Notes for editors:
1. Butterfly Conservation is the largest charity of its type in the world. Our aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. We run conservation programmes for more than 100 threatened species and manage over 30 nature reserves. The report Landscape-scale conservation for butterflies and moths: lessons from the UK is available from the Butterfly Conservation website

2. Warwickshire Wildlife Trust is the leading local environmental charity which works for people and wildlife in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull. We are a voluntary membership organisation supported by more than 23,000 members and 500 volunteers. We promote a better natural environment for local wildlife and local people as part of our aim to create a living landscape in the West Midlands where wildlife and local people can live and thrive together. The Trust looks after 56 nature reserves across our region. For more information see

Contact information:
Butterfly Conservation press office
t: 01929 406005

Stephen Trotter, Chief Executive (Warwickshire Wildlife Trust)
t: 024 7630 8994
m: 07824 542324

If you have any questions or require more information about this press release, please contact Butterfly Conservation by email.

About Our Press Releases

Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire regularly issue press releases on issues in relation to butterfly and moth conservation in the Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull area alongside occasional press releases covering national stories from Butterfly Conservation's head office.

If you require further information about a specific press release, please contact the specific press release author.

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Notes For Editors
Butterfly Conservation is the largest conservation charity of its type in Europe with over 13,000 members in the UK. Its aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. It runs conservation programmes on over 60 threatened species of butterfly and moth, organises national butterfly recording and monitoring schemes, and manages over 30 nature reserves.

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