Farmers join forces for butterflies

Grant aid for groups to help struggling species.

A wildlife charity has been awarded £75,000 to get farmers and foresters in the West Midlands working together to help declining butterflies.

Butterfly Conservation will use the money as part of a new project to recruit landowners across the Wyre Forest, training them on how best to help butterfly species in their area.

It follows the shocking statistics revealed in The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015 report this week that 76% of the UK’s butterflies have declined over the last 40 years, with common farmland butterflies particularly affected.

BC’s Senior Regional Officer for the West Midlands, Dr Jenny Joy, said farmers will be encouraged to work together for this new project: “For the first time, this scheme gives us the opportunity to work with surrounding landowners in a way we have wanted to for years. We want to get everyone sharing ideas, skills, contacts and machinery, so they’re not only supporting struggling species on their land but into their neighbours land too.”

The Wyre Forest is on the Shropshire and Worcestershire border and BC has been running successful conservation projects there since the 1980’s. The area is now considered one of the best in the UK for the nationally declining Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly.

Dr Joy said the new scheme will expand upon these achievements: “Bringing landowners together from such a wide area is a fairly new way of working in conservation, but it really is vital as many landscapes are broken up and owned by different people and organisations. Butterflies don’t ‘understand’ these boundaries, but if you can join up these pieces of land and create connected habitats, conservation projects to save rare species like the Pearl-bordered Fritillary are proven to be much more successful. It’s all about creating a secure future for these butterflies.”

The project to recruit landowners will run for five years and during this time BC will hold a series of conservation workshops covering topics like land management techniques and how to manage woodland sustainably.

The first workshop is being held on Friday 18th December at the Wyre Forest Discovery Centre on Callow Hill at Bewdley.

For more information on this and future workshops, or to find out more about the project and how you can benefit, contact Dr Jenny Joy by emailing [email protected]

The scheme is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs new Countryside Stewardship scheme and is being rolled out across the country by Natural England. More funding will go to organisations like BC, who can use it to share their wildlife expertise and facilitate the training.