London Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the Natural History Museum will be working together with volunteers and local communities to create chalk grassland ‘Living Landscapes’ that will come alive with butterflies, wildflowers and insects. This is also an excellent opportunity for residents to volunteer and work alongside specialist scientists to survey the areas using pioneering environmental DNA analysis technology and capture data about chalk grassland wildlife, as well as learn new skills in conservation, all whilst spending quality time outdoors.
Up to 40 new butterfly havens will be created on and adjacent to existing London Wildlife Trust reserves as well as in community green spaces in south Croydon and Bromley such as housing estates, parks and road verges; enabling residents to experience a snapshot of chalk grassland habitat, and the diversity of species it supports, in everyday places.
Many butterflies and insects are in serious trouble and the State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015 report evidenced that 76% of species have declined over the last 40 years. Research by Butterfly Conservation, the University of Kent and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) has since found that this decline is worse in urban than rural areas. Butterflies and moths are also key indicators of climate change and have been recognised by the Government as indicators of biodiversity and a healthy environment.
Brilliant Butterflies aims to enhance the local populations of small blue, grizzled skipper, chalk hill blue and brown hairstreak butterflies, and reveal secrets about other insects found in these habitats in this part of London, for which we need to know more to ensure their future survival.
Brilliant Butterflies will help capture vital monitoring data to help make a case for the future protection of these spaces, which are located in an increasingly vulnerable part of London’s Green Belt.
Funded by a £1 million Dream Fund Award, from the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the butterfly havens will provide a picturesque and tranquil setting for residents to relax in the warmer months in amongst the butterflies.
Mathew Frith, Director of Conservation at London Wildlife Trust says
“Brilliant Butterflies provides us with an unrivalled opportunity to reverse the declines of the amazing diversity of London’s chalk grassland wildlife. Not only will we be able to create new havens for butterflies, beetles and bees within our nature reserves, but we can bring nature closer to the communities that live nearby by transforming greenspaces into colourful wildflower spaces. We look forward to working with local people and organisations to put butterflies back on Croydon’s map, and bring about a step change in the way we design and manage suburban green space for wildlife and people."
Butterfly Conservation’s Russel Hobson said
“This project is happening at a great time for butterflies and moths in London. Local authorities are already changing how they look after London’s parks and other green spaces, and many of us are managing our gardens more for wildlife. We hope butterflies such as Marbled White and Gatekeeper, and moths such as Jersey Tiger and Tree-lichen Beauty will spread as a result. Here in Croydon we want to see these species right in the heart of the community, so people can be involved in bringing these beautiful insects into the places where they live and work.”
Head of the Angela Marmont Centre at the Natural History Museum, Dr John Tweddle has said:
“By taking positive action at a local level, we can all play a role in helping to support the wildlife on which we depend. We are excited to be part of the transformative Brilliant Butterflies project and look forward to working with local communities to study and enhance Croydon’s chalk grassland landscape. The pioneering DNA science that we will develop and the citizen scientists that we train [and support] will build an unprecedented understanding of the wealth of invertebrates that call chalk grassland their home, leading to a new approach to monitoring -and we hope improving - the health of suburban green spaces.”
To find out more and register your interest as a volunteer visit the Brilliant Butterflies page.