The Forest is the last remaining foothold in Gloucestershire for the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly (pictured above), a species which has undergone large national declines. Changes in habitat, notably an increase in tree cover, scrub and bracken growth and a reduction in sheep grazing, has drastically reduced the area of suitable breeding habitat.
With this project we have been able to create and restore a network of open spaces throughout the Forest for this butterfly to flourish again and potentially reintroduce them into areas where local extinction has been happening.
In the Forest the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary has been closely associated with two main types of habitat – woodland glades and clearings, and grassland with bracken and/or patches of scrub. Of great importance is the presence of Common Dog violet and Marsh violet – the caterpillar food plants. Substantial areas of tree removal, scrub and bracken clearance, earthworks, and planting are needed to successfully maintain and enhance habitats.
The project volunteers, led by Kate Wollen, Assistant Ecologist for Forestry England, have been able to complete a range of activity:
Forestry England still welcome volunteers to get involved with butterfly surveys and habitat improvement works. Please contact local volunteer co-ordinator Deb Cook: email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01594 822073
To find out more about butterfly conservation in general, do take a look at Butterfly Conservation