All The Moor Butterflies
We are pleased to announce that, under the guise of our new Heritage Lottery Fund project All the Moor Butterflies, our successful work on Exmoor and Dartmoor is being given a boost, as well as expanding to include Bodmin Moor.
The conservation focus of the project is six species that are in severe decline nationally but still have viable populations in these three areas. They are High Brown Fritillary, Heath Fritillary, Marsh Fritillary, Pearl-borded Fritillary. Small Pearl-bprdered Fritillary and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
These species rely on three habitats that are still relatively widespread in the project area. They are:-
- Purple moor-grass and rush pasture. This wet grassland, often called Rhôs pasture or Culm, contains a tussocky sward that is home to many species of flowering plant. It often holds Devil’s-bit Scabious, which is the larval foodplant of the Marsh Fritillary and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth. Marsh Violet, which is a foodplant for the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, is also found in this grassland type.
- Upland heathland. The heaths on Exmoor host a nationally significant population of Heath Fritillary the larvae of which feed on Common Cow-wheat which is a hemi-parasite of Bilberry.
- Bracken/grass mosaic. Many of these moorlands’ steep valley sides contain swathes of Bracken, accompanied by violets growing through. These warm, sheltered conditions are ideal for the High Brown, Pearl-bordered and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.
The project’s aims are:-
- To conserve existing populations of the target species, by working with landowners to help them manage their land for these species.
- To restore suitable habitat patches within existing metapopulation networks, with the aim of increasing the number of occupied sites.
- To raise awareness of the target species, ensuring people become more connected to these rare and threatened species.
- To bring people and wildlife closer together, giving people the opportunity to explore these magnificent landscapes and discover new wildlife.
- To train local volunteers in how to monitor the target species, as well as carrying out practical conservation tasks to manage the habitat.
The success of the of the project depends on engaging the interest and help of the people who own and manage the land, from farmers dependant on the land for their livelihoods to large bodies like the National Trust with a wide spectrum of objectives for their own work. A key element of this is the availability of grants derived from the Common Agricultural Policy to achieve environmental gains on farmed land and part of the job of the Project Officer is to match the needs of land managers with the grant process.
All the Moor Butterflies also has an entirely new dimension, to involve and enthuse local communities thus strengthening support for butterfly conservation and practical environmental management as a part of rural land-use.
There are two new project officers. Simon Phelps is the Conservation Officer and Megan Lowe is the Community Engagement Officer.
The project has a three-year life and is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Exmoor National Park Authority, Cornwall AONB and Natural England, as well as other organisations.
The summary report of the 2017 surveys of target species is here