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Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire - Branch Logo featuring the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly.Butterfly Conservation.

Projects - Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey

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.

UK butterfly monitoring currently focuses on nature reserves and butterfly-rich places. This has lead 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, run by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), 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 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 surveying roughly half of the squares last year.

Map showing the wider countryside survey points for 2013 - Click on the map to download and print the map.What's involved?
The new 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 2010 is to resurvey all squares covered last year and more so if you would like to take part please get in touch.

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


Left: Map showing the wider countryside survey points for 2013 - Click on the map to download and print the map.


The following survey squares still require a volunteer to record butterflies during 2013.

If you can help with any of these (see list below), please contact Keith Warmington, Branch Butterfly Recorder.

Bearley - SP1861 Merevale - SP2997
Bickmarsh - SP1049 Shottery - SP1854
Burmington - SP2638 Streton on Dunsmore - SP4173
Dorsington - SP1349 Streton on Fosse - SP2138
Earleswood - SP1273 Swift Valley - SP5078
Fenny Compton - SP4153 Ullenhall - SP1167
Honily - SP2273 Ullenhall - SP1267
Ladbroke - SP4359 Winderton - SP3340
Lawford Heath - SP4572 Wishaw - SP1794
Marston - SP2094 Wolfhampcote - SP5165

In Association with the BTO and CEH

The Wider countryside Butterfly Survey is organised in partnership with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).

British Trust for OrnithologyCentre for Ecology & HydrologyButterfly Conservation

Background to Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey

Following four years of pilot studies, the Wider Countryside Butterfly survey (WCBS) was formally launched in 2009. The WCBS is the first UK-wide survey of butterfly abundance based on random sampling. In spite of limited resources for promotion, there was a fantastic response by volunteer recorders.

During the 2009 season, participants included recorders from the BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and BC volunteers. 568 squares were allocated to BTO recorders who signed up to take part in 92 BTO regions, whilst a further 721 squares were allocated to BC volunteers though a network of 31 WCBS Branch Champions. National co-ordination was undertaken by Katie Cruickshanks at BC HQ, with support from Kate Risely BBS National Organiser at BTO HQ.

Results of the WCBS

2013 - Year 5 Results Download pdf
2012 - Year 4 Results Download pdf
2011 - Year 3 Results Download pdf
2010 - Year 2 Results Download pdf
2009 - Year 1 Results Download pdf