Saturday, 24 September 2016

MPs as 'Species Champions': targeted conservation to help the Marsh Fritillary butterfly on Dartmoor

We had the Big Butterfly Count earlier in the summer:
Futures Forum: The Big Butterfly Count: if you go down to the woods today

And there were pleas to look out for a butterfly which has seen dramatic declines:
Futures Forum: Please take part in the Garden Butterfly Survey and help us find out where our Small Tortoiseshells are

Dartmoor and Exmoor both provide habitats for rare butterflies:
Butterfly Conservation - The Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project

And within the context of the latest State of Nature report
Futures Forum: State of Nature: "intensive management of agricultural land had by far the largest negative impact"

... the project on the Moors is particularly important:

Liam Creedon of Butterfly Conservation said: "The wild and windswept expanses of Exmoor and Dartmoor are not only among the most evocative places in the UK but they are also strongholds to some of our rarest butterflies."

"Butterfly Conservation's Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project is improving habitat for the marsh fritillary, high brown fritillary and heath fritillary on these moors, to help restore and reconnect suitable habitat to provide sustainable populations for the future."

Our well loved wildlife in peril, new report shows | Plymouth Herald

And now there's a real push to help one species in particular:

Neil Parish adopts rare Dartmoor butterfly to help boost its numbers

By Mid Devon Gazette | Posted: September 23, 2016

Neil Parish (left) on Dartmoor with Butterfly Conservation staff

TIVERTON and Honiton MP Neil Parish has 'adopted' one of the UK's most threatened butterflies in a bid to help boost its numbers.

The nationally scarce Marsh Fritillary is in decline across Europe, but can be found in small numbers across Devon, including on Dartmoor.

Mr Parish visited the national park recently after becoming a 'Species Champion' for the rare butterfly.

He said: "I am thrilled to be working with Butterfly Conservation (BC) to raise the profile of the Marsh Fritillary and I'm hoping that by being a 'Species Champion' I can contribute to securing its future. During my visit I was able to see Marsh Fritillary caterpillars and the amazing webs they spin to protect themselves. It was also extremely valuable to find out what needs to be done with the surrounding land to help this butterfly thrive."

BC's Conservation Officer, Rachel Jones, joined Mr Parish on Dartmoor.

She said: "The role of the 'Species Champion' is to promote good land management for the selected species and to raise the profile of wildlife in Parliament. There are now 30 MP Species Champions across England and we're really grateful that Mr Parish has chosen to support BC and in particular, this declining butterfly, which needs targeted conservation work to keep its population healthy."

The Marsh Fritillary has declined across the UK by 62% in the last 10 years and although BC's conservation work on Dartmoor has led to an increase in the number of caterpillar webs found there most years, experts are concerned about a drop in butterfly numbers this year.

The butterfly can be identified by its colourful wings, which are far brighter than other fritillary butterflies. The upper wings are reddish-orange, with yellow or white patches and black veins. It is also the only fritillary to have a row of black dots around the bottom edge on both sides of the hindwing, but none on the forewing.

A guided walk takes place each year on Dartmoor between May and July to see the butterfly during its flight period.

To find out more about this, BC's conservation work and volunteering to help this butterfly over the autumn and winter, please contact BC's Project Officer, Jenny Plackett at: jplackett@butterfly-conservation.org

Neil Parish adopts rare Dartmoor butterfly to help boost its numbers | Exeter Express and Echo

See also:
Butterfly Conservation - Marsh Fritillary

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