Forest may hold key to saving butterflies
THE Forestry Commission is taking action to tackle the decline in rare woodland butterflies and moths and helping them to thrive once again.
Working with Butterfly Conservation they have announced plans to improve the plight of this important and charismatic part of our native fauna.
It should provide a brighter future for them at a key local site in the Stour Valley outside Ashford, which is cited as a prime example of success.
At Denge Wood near Godmersham, the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly has seen its fortunes greatly improved as part of a landscape restoration project by Forestry Commission staff in partnership with the Woodland Trust and a private woodland owner.
Through the sensitive removal of vegetation it has been possible to reconnect a pair of isolated colonies and increase their links, to make sure that inbreeding does not increase the chances of local extinction.
The Duke of Burgundy is now confined to only a handful of sites in South East England and is extinct in neighbouring Surrey.
The main foodplants for this butterfly are primrose and cowslip that are found growing among coarse vegetation.
Open space creation along the corridor has improved the amount and distribution of these foodplants.
Forestry Commission staff drew up the habitat improvement plan, helped fund the enhancement works on the private land and oversaw the delivery of operations on the ground.
Jay Doyle, Forestry Commission ecologist for South East England said: “The future success of wildlife conservation will to a large extent hinge on the willingness of the Government, non-governmental organisations and private landowners to work together and pool knowledge and resources to achieve landscape-scale benefits in a cost-effective manner.”