Thanks to a conservation scheme, rare wildlife and plants are coming back to meadows in Wales!
Since the 1930s, meadows have been vanishing from the landscape there. In fact, 97% of wildflower meadows were lost due to heavy fertiliser use and early hay crops – which also meant that 63% of butterflies disappeared as well.
However, the National Trust Wales have been working hard to reverse this disappearance.
Last year, the charity created 40 acres of new meadows across the country. They care for 582.2 acres of meadow. And good news! Amongst them was Chirk Castle, where 6 hectares of herb rich meadows were re-established.
Wildlife flowers such as the yellow rattle – not seen since World War Two – have been sighted in Chirk, in North Wales. There’s been a 50% increase in yellow rattle and eyebright plants!
The idea is to form a basic habitat. The Trust have already noticed an increase in the numbers of insects and small mammals in the grass on the ground; and kestrels in the skies above them, hunting them.
Green-winged orchids are also blossoming at Bodnant Garden near Colwyn Bay.
Farmers are also benefitting. Allowing their hay crops to grow wild for longer before they cut them means that they get more minerals and fibre.
A win-win, all round then!
Wildlife Conservation News
Wildlife and our last remaining wild places are being destroyed because of human action or inaction and because of our own short –term greed.
Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa
Category: Pollinator Conservation - Bees, Butterflies
Butterfly Conservation sent my husband and I information about the work they did to save the Small Blue Butterfly and it makes very interesting reading.
I thought I’d share how they did it with you. They are hoping to repeat the success of the Small Blue in the West Midlands with other declining butterflies and moths.
Here’s the conservation journey Butterfly Conservation took:
1. Identify the problem
So by 2009, the Small Blue had become extinct in 4 counties in the West Midlands. In Warwickshire, it’s numbers had gone down by 87%. Here, recorders could only find 3 colonies left.
2. Research declines
The Small Blue lays its eggs on flowering Kidney Vetch. But site surveys for the Small Blue showed they were becoming too overgrown with scrub for new Kidney Vetch plants to establish themselves.
3. Determine Solutions
- To remove scrub
- To test methods of creating new habitat to encourage Kidney Vetch to germinate
- To sow Kidney Vetch seed or plant plug plants
4. Take Action!
Since 2009, Butterfly Conservation has….. (drum roll please…)
- Cleared 56 hectares of scrub
- Created 27 butterfly banks
- Dug 12 scrapes
- Planted a whopping 13,000 Kidney Vetch plugs
- Sowed 34kg of seeds over 60 sites
4. Do the next steps
The charity has recruited volunteers to monitor Small Blue numbers and help maintain and restore habitat. This will help wildflowers and butterflies to flourish.
5. Yippee!! This has all been successful
The Small Blue Butterfly liked the habitat improvements, colonizing restored habitat on occupied sites AND moving back to former sites. It even went into areas it hadn’t been before
By 2016, the Small Blue had spread to 19 sites. This was a six-fold increase in numbers in only 7 years!
But there's more. In this project, Butterfly Conservation says the Small Blue has been a ‘flagship’ or ‘umbrella’ species. The reasons for this is that other butterflies, moths and invertebrates have been helped by improvements to the habitat. The Grizzled Skipper, the Dingy Skipper, the Chalk Carpet moth and three of Warwickshire's rarest bumblebees all benefited. Which just goes to show that conservation projects don't just help one species - they can help a good many.
So now it’s hoped that other butterflies can be helped in the same way. Our changing climate is one factor, but research is taking place to find out why and then plan a way forward to reverse these declines.
You can help today by donating to help the High Brown Fritillary. It was once found in woodland clearings in much of England and Wales.
Since the 1970s, its distribution has declined by 96% and it now only remains in Exmoor, Dartmoor, Morecame Bay Limestones and South Cumbria LowFells and the Glamorgan Brackenlands.
3 ways to help butterflies generally
- Plant a pot for pollinators in your garden – you only need space for a pot, you don’t need acres and acres
- Volunteer for your local Butterfly Conservation branch
- Have a good look round their website to look for a way to help
It’s great to hear about initiatives people can join in with - and better to hear that people are actually joining up and making a difference.
It’s an amazing project. Butterfly Conservation are asking people to plant a pot or pots for pollinators – butterflies and bees.
Butterfly Conservation says the UK has 1,500 pollinating species – bumblebees, honeybees, hoverflies, beetles, wasps, butterflies and moths. Changes in land use and the way it’s managed are destroying vital wildlife habitat on farms, woodlands, towns and cities. We need to look after our pollinators.
Over 80% of EU crops and 80% of wildlflowers need insect pollination. Pollinators can only look after us, if we look after them. And if we provide habitat for them, they will come. The sight of colourful butterflies fluttering around your garden thanks to your efforts is a truly lovely one. There’s something very relaxing about listening to bees buzzing around flowers.
So the more plants we pot and grow for our pollinators, the better.
There’s a planting guide with suggestions of what butterflies like
The Plant Pots for Pollinators scheme is sponsored by B&Q, so watch for Butterfly Conservation events at some B&Q stores.
And you can add your pot to Butterfly Conservation’s interactive map, which shows how many people have planted a pot and where in the country that pot is. So far, 340 plant pots have been planted.