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Become a Citizen Scientist

Chalk Hill Blue - © Natural History Museum

What is chalk grassland?

In London chalk grassland can be found mainly on the North Downs. A flora and fauna rich habitat supporting up to 40 species per meter squared, where rare and beautiful butterflies can be enjoyed in the capital.  

The weathering of chalk and other limestone base geology, forms well-drained, nutrient poor soils. A sunny climate and our relationship to traditionally managing land with grazing sheep, keeps turf short and open, allowing lime loving plants and invertebrates to flourish. There are many rare and scarce species associated with the habitat such as the small blue butterfly and roman snail. Scrubby grassland margins of dogwood and guelder rose help to create a mosaic of habitat and supports other species not found out on the open grassland, such as great green bush cricket.  

Brilliant Butterflies sites

View our nature reserves that you can visit here

BB reserves map

Training opportunities

Join Grassland Heroes and Big Bug Hunts courses 

Work alongside Natural History Museum’s specialist scientists and become a citizen scientist.  

The NHM will undertake ground-breaking environmental DNA (eDNA) surveys across the project sites, investigating the communities of insects on these sites. The acquired knowledge from these surveys can inform conservation practice for invertebrate communities. 

Brilliant Butterflies volunteers have the exciting opportunity to learn from a diverse team of ecologists and scientists working to restore this habitat. The NHM will train volunteers to identify key groups of chalk grassland invertebrates on our ‘Grassland Heroes’ science training course. Volunteers can put their ID skills to test on ‘Big Bug Hunts’ and participate in biological recording, helping the museum scientists with eDNA surveys in the field. 

Find out more about Brilliant Butterflies training opportunities at NHM or contact brilliantbutterflies@wildlondon.org.uk   

Identify and monitor butterflies

Brilliant Butterflies will capture vital monitoring data to help make a case for the future protection of specialist chalk grassland sites, which are located in an increasingly vulnerable part of London’s Green Belt  (a protected area of green land around London and the home counties).  

To learn how to identify key species of butterflies and moths, join one of our Butterfly ID and Monitoring workshops.  

Find out more from Butterfly Conservation or contact Steve on sbolton@butterfly-conservation.org 

Building new butterfly habitat

Brilliant Butterflies aims to address the decline of special chalk grassland habitat by working with local communities, schools, and landowners to create 40 new habitats or butterfly ‘banks’. This helps our quest to expand chalk grassland beyond nature reserves and create a ‘living landscape’ for pollinators in south London to thrive.  

Our experienced team work with local communities to; 

  • Identify suitable locations for new habitat 
  • Engage community volunteers with creation of new butterfly habitat 
  • Develop habitat creation plan and practical delivery in partnership and collaboration with others 
  • Provide guidance in management, sustaining the effort over time to achieve long-term results 
  • Monitoring and evaluate the progress over the course of the project 

If you have a site of interest for the Brilliant Butterflies team, please get in touch on brilliantbutterflies@wildlondon.org.uk  

Key species