Cornwall’s struggling butterflies face the triple threats of development, intensification of farming and lack of management of vital habitats where they live and breed, says Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
The trust says that they have witnessed the worrying national trend in the decline of both rare and common butterflies and need to raise £20,000 to fund vital conservation work to help save Cornwall’s butterflies.
A spokesman said: "These funds will help the Trust to stop inappropriate development, as important butterfly sites are still being damaged and lost to opportunistic developments. They will stop this by influencing strategic development plans and fighting damaging planning applications.
"Scrub clearance work urgently needs to be done on Trust nature reserves such as Helman Tor near Bodmin, Windmill Farm on The Lizard and Upton Towans near Hayle. Work on these sites must be done this winter if butterflies are to survive and flourish on them."
Keith Hambly-Staite, trustee for Cornwall Wildlife Trust said: "For some, butterflies are the highlight of warm summer days; beautifully marked insects which seem to dance around our gardens and countryside fields and hedgerows. They delight adults and children alike. But they are in decline. Without the right habitats our butterflies, which have been part of our summer months for centuries will be gone forever.
"Cornwall Wildlife Trust has 57 nature reserves across Cornwall covering over 5,000 acres, couple this with our growing relationship with the farming community and we are well placed to reverse this decline. But we do need your help to achieve this. Any contribution people feel they can make to our appeal will make a big difference to the future of Cornwall’s butterflies".
The Trust says it has been "fighting hard for years" to save rare and threatened species including marsh fritillary, small pearl-bordered fritillary and the stunning silver studded blue, however adding: "Unfortunately some of our more common butterflies are now declining in the wider countryside. The Trust must continue to do what they can on their own nature reserves but see their work with farmers and land owners as now more vital than ever if they are to reverse this decline."
The Trust aim to work on new projects to save butterflies with Cornwall Butterfly Conservation, as well as survey farmland, which covers 74 per cnt of Cornwall for butterflies and butterfly habitats. The charity will also track changes in butterfly population size and extent. It is important for them to know how Cornwall’s butterfly populations are changing in order to effectively focus their conservation efforts.
The Trust hosts the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (ERCCIS) where butterfly records are gathered from specialist recorders and the public alike.
Peacock butterflies have declined by 24% in the last 10 years. Photo by Bob Coyle
John Gowenlock, trustee for Cornwall Wildlife Trust added: “The extraordinary weather events of recent years, loss and fragmentation of habitats and a lack of appropriate management on many sites means the future of our butterflies in Cornwall is far from certain. Work on our nature reserves and private farmland is essential to give us the best chance of reversing their decline”.
The marsh fritillary is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority butterfly, classed as vulnerable. The UK population has declined by 46% since the 1970s. These can be found on Helman Tor (Bodmin) and Windmill Farm (The Lizard) Nature Reserves.
The silver studded blue is also a BAP species whose population has decreased nationally by 43 per cent by the 1970s. Whlist endangered these can still be seen on the Trust’s Upton Towans Nature Reserve, near Hayle.
Butterflies that have declined include; peacock 24%, red admiral21%, holly blue 29% and small tortoiseshell 64%.
The Trust says that this heathland site is important for butterflies yet has been granted outline planning permission for housing.
To donate to Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Butterfly Appeal, please visit www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/appeal, call (01872) 273939 or post a cheque to Cornwall Wildlife Trust Butterfly appeal, Five Acres, Allet, Truro, TR4 9DJ.
You can also donate via Just Giving at www.justgiving.com/cornwallwildlifetrust or simply text 70070 with the code BFAP14 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10.