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All the Moor Butterflies Project Finishes on a High

Simon Phelps and Megan Lowe from Butterfly Conservation share with us their experience and successes of the fantastic All the Moor Butterflies project.

After three years of hard work (from 2017 to 2019) on the iconic moors of south-west England, Butterfly Conservations ambitious ‘All the Moor Butterflies’ project has finished. The project has improved the fortunes of some of south-west England’s rarest butterfly species by working with landowners and farmers, whilst also offering a breadth of opportunities for new and existing audiences to get involved with their conservation.

The project worked with 146 landowners/farmers across 201 sites on Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. Project staff carried out 841 site visits, giving advice to landowners and farmers to help them care for the rare butterflies and moths on their land. 199 sites were surveyed for the target Fritillary species, resulting in a whopping 13,243 butterflies being counted. It was wonderful to see such rare species thriving on areas of sensitively farmed land across the three moorland areas. Three key highlights were strong numbers of Pearl-bordered Fritillary being recorded across Dartmoor, numbers of Heath Fritillary booming in 2018 and 29 new sites being discovered on Bodmin Moor for the Marsh Fritillary. Farmers in these areas deserve great credit for retaining these species, which have been lost from many places nationally, on their land.

The project delivered a large amount of habitat management work in partnership with landowners and farmers. 165 hectares of habitat was improved on farms by working with volunteers, who attended 80 work parties and gave 861 days of volunteer time. This meant that habitats were improved on farms for key species like the Marsh Fritillary.

Over 5000 people learnt about the fascinating lives of these wonderful insects and were given opportunities to contribute to their conservation. This was a crucial part of the project, as it was vital to show people these beautiful species and places. School children, volunteers and people with mental health issues all got the chance to learn about why these butterfly and moth species matter and join in with the work to save them.

The ‘All the Moor Butterflies’ project has been a tremendous success. It has demonstrated that when we work together at a landscape scale, involving conservation partners, landowners, farmers and volunteers, we can save species. It has also shown us that butterflies and moths are a powerful force for good within communities.

You can find out more about what the project achieved by visiting the project website. You will also find a lovely film there that showcases some of the highlights of the project. The website is here: https://butterfly-conservation.org/our-work/conservation-projects/england/all-the-moor-butterflies

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