Stag beetle gets a political champion as Seb Dance MEP lends his support to Britain's biggest beetle

Thursday 24th March 2016

Stag beetle Species Champion Seb Dance MEP, talking to Peter Haldane of the WimbStag beetle Species Champion Seb Dance MEP, talking to Peter Haldane of the Wimbledon Conservators

The stag beetle now has its own political representative in Europe. London MEP Seb Dance has become an advocate for the endangered beetle, by becoming a “Species Champion” at a visit to Wimbledon Common.

stag beetleSeb met with London Wildlife Trust, People’s Trust for Endangered Species and RSPB staff together with the rangers from Wimbledon & Putney Commons, a stronghold for the stag beetle, to discuss efforts to save the species in the UK and Europe.

With the EU Directives, which provide cross-border protection to Europe’s wildlife, currently under review the three nature conservation organisations warmly welcome Seb Dance MEP as Species Champion for the stag beetle in the European Parliament and in his London constituency.

London is a national hotspot for the spectacular stag beetle and we’re proud to have been championing this species for almost 20 years...

Gordon Scorer, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust, says: “London is a national hotspot for the spectacular stag beetle and we’re proud to have been championing this species for almost 20 years. Through collective efforts we have raised the profile of this magnificent, rare beetle; encouraging land managers and the general public to create better conditions for this species in parks, woodlands and back gardens. We welcome Seb Dance MEP as a new champion for the stag beetle and hope that many other people will join us in celebrating London’s big bold beetle.”

Chris Corrigan, RSPB South East Regional Director says: “Seb Dance’s adoption of the stag beetle turns the spotlight on this unique but sadly dwindling species. Most of its life is spent underground where it lives on dead wood for up to six years. Fully formed adults emerge just once in their lifetime for a brief spell in summer, so are rarely seen. Looking after stag beetles means looking after the places where they live. Maintaining the European legislation which does this is vital, so having Seb as an informed champion at a time when these laws are being reviewed makes him a welcome and much needed champion for stags.”

Jill Nelson, Chief Executive at PTES says: “The Great Stag Hunt is a citizen science project organised by People’s Trust for Endangered Species that’s involved thousands of people over nearly 20 years, recording stag beetles seen in their garden or local greenspaces. The population appears to be stable in Britain, but elsewhere in Europe it’s undergoing a decline in range, due to loss of habitat. It’s therefore important we keep an eye on the UK population and encourage people to create stag beetle friendly habitat, especially as stag beetles are both easily recognisable and well-loved and ideal for raising the profile of dead wood habitats.” 

Simon Lee, Wimbledon & Putney Commons’ Chief Executive commented “As a stronghold for the increasingly rare stag beetle, Wimbledon and Putney Commons are committed to ensuring active and ongoing conservation management is carried out to protect, maintain and restore the habitat of this magnificent beetle. With a committed workforce of staff and volunteers we will continue to work side by side with partners and the local community to both monitor and help ensure the ongoing survival of stag beetles on the Commons in the future”.

Seb Dance, MEP, says: “The EU Nature Directives have been central to the protection and preservation of biodiversity in the UK and it is vital that we protect them so that they can protect species such as the stag beetle, which is facing increasing risk of extinction. The EU's biodiversity targets will only be met with more effort and better implementation from EU governments, including our own. Labour MEPs will work to ensure the possible review of the Nature Directives is not used as an excuse to water down or weaken the legislation and call on the Commission not to reopen or revise the Birds and Habitats Directives, but to step up efforts to help Member States' implementation."

More information

1. The MEP Species Champion initiative has been established to highlight the threats faced by a number of key species across the British Isles. Wildlife covered by the initiative include birds, plants, mammals and insects, which are of conservation concern and are currently protected under the EU’s Birds and Habitats Directives. Nonetheless, the fate of these species still hangs in the balance, and they need Champions with strong voices who are willing to work together with the RSPB and our partners to help secure a better future.

Species Champions will be able to learn first-hand about their species from wildlife organisations and shown how we can help species populations recover. It is hoped the work will provide a brighter future for the species, spread that knowledge throughout the political community and shape policy to improve its future.

We are inviting English MEPs from all parties who sit as full members of the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee to take part in the Species’ Champions initiative, with a view to extending the scheme to substitute members at a later date. Our colleagues in the devolved countries may also seek to extend the scheme to MEPs from other parts of the UK. To date three MEPs have joined the initiative: Catherine Bearder MEP (turtle dove), Julie Girling MEP (Bewick’s swan – a partnership with RSPB and Wildfowl and Wetland Trust) and Jim Nicholson MEP (Common tern). Likewise, we are also working with partner organisations to introduce the initiative on a similar cross-party basis with Members of Parliament in Westminster.

2. Wimbledon Common is a Special Area for Conservation, designated under the EU Habitats Directive as a protected area for the stag beetle.

3. The RSPB is the country’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We also play a leading role in a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations. Visit for more information.

4. London Wildlife Trust is the only charity dedicated solely to protecting the capital's wildlife and wild spaces, engaging London's diverse communities through access to our nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and education. London Wildlife Trust began surveying for stag beetles in 1997, encouraging Londoners to report sightings of this magnificent insect across London. This work continues today, feeding statistics into the national Great Stag Hunt. The Trust has also produced guides to help land managers and members of the public identify stag beetles and create habitats to help sustain them. The Trust manages over 40 nature reserves across London, providing a home to stag beetles as well as a huge array of other wildlife, from rare butterflies and orchids to majestic birds of prey. 

5. PTES, a UK conservation charity created in 1977, is ensuring a future for endangered species throughout the world. We protect some of our most threatened wildlife species and habitats, and provide practical conservation support through research, grant-aid, educational programmes, wildlife surveys, publications and public events. Our current priority species and habitats include hazel dormice, hedgehogs, water voles, noble chafers, stag beetles, traditional orchards and native woodlands.

For almost two decades, PTES have also been collecting volunteer’s stag beetle records in order to build an up-to-date picture of where they are, and where they need help. For the last 10 years, PTES has funded research into stag beetles with Prof Alan Gange and Dr Deborah Harvey at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL). Together they have written the Biodiversity Action Plan for this threatened insect. To record your sighting of a stag beetle visit where you can also find out how to create a stag beetle-friendly garden, giving the insect a better chance of survival. From leaving dead wood on the ground to rot down as food and shelter for larvae, to being mindful of cats outside in the evening, we can all help to support the numbers of stag beetles in Britain.

Learn more about stag beetles and report your sightings at The more we know, the better we can protect this special species.