Steve Bamford writes: I am an amateur naturalist and volunteer recorder/worker of Butterfly Conservation.
This is a plea for donations, no matter how small, to save an iconic species of butterfly that is just holding on after years of decline in an area where it used to be abundant not so long ago. This is the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, a specialised species that loves calcareous grasslands and coppiced woodlands and its caterpillars host plants are the cowslip and primrose. The reason for the decline is from changes in land use, cessation of coppicing and the planting of conifers which in turn shades out populations and also isolates colonies which die out due to genetic instability. We need to reverse this decline and restore its preferred habitat, which also benefits many other species of wildlife before it is lost for good.
Within the North Yorkshire Moors the ‘Duke’ inhabits two areas: the Helmsley network and the Pickering network. The population around Pickering which I have been monitoring over the last 8 years is desperately low and is only present at two sites. Thankfully Butterfly Conservation has stepped in and with limited funds has managed to widen some rides, start coppicing and manage scrub levels which, if they hadn’t of, this butterfly would have been lost already. Funding is needed to carry on this great work and there is also a plan for a re introduction to an extinct site which has public access so many can enjoy its return.
Even the smallest donation (click here) will be much appreciated and hopefully in years to come the ‘Duke’ will still be with us. All donations must be made before 09:30 on Monday 27 February.
Thanks must go out to Dr Dave Wainwright (Butterfly Conservation North of England Officer) and to Robert Parks for their efforts so far in organising work days,