The Conserving Rare Butterflies in the Painswick Valley Project aims to restore and improve limestone grassland habitat for the Large Blue, Duke of Burgundy and a wide range of other butterflies across a network of eleven sites, including five within the NNR.
The Large Blue became extinct in the Cotswolds in the 1960’s and has been the subject of the longest running and most successful re- introduction project in Britain. Over the past 30 years the Duke of Burgundy has undergone a decline of 82% in the Cotswolds. It formerly occurred mainly in woodland rides and clearings but also on grassland sites with scrubby edges; both have suffered declines owing to changes in agricultural and forestry practices.
In October 2012, Butterfly Conservation was successful in obtaining funding from BIFFA to conduct this exciting new project with our project partners. Detailed habitat assessments are being carried out on each site to inform the habitat restoration works which include scrub management to prevent caterpillar foodplants from being shaded out as well as the introduction and maintenance of appropriate grazing.
Where foodplants, (Wild Thyme for the Large Blue and Cowslips for the Duke of Burgundy), have become scarce we will bolster their numbers by propagating seeds and cuttings using local nurseries. During the life of the project, we aim to introduce 8000 plants across the sites and there will be a number of days with opportunities to become involved with planting them!
The project is now well underway and habitat assessments commenced in the autumn including surveys of ants and foodplants. Targeted scrub management has also begun using local specialist contractors and by running volunteer days led by the various partners and site managers and some cowslips have been successfully propagated.
The Conserving Rare Butterflies in the Painswick Valley Project is funded by a Biffa Award grant, led by Butterfly Conservation and delivered with our partners, Natural England, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, National Trust Grazing Animals Project, AONB, Cranham Common Trust, local Parish Councils, landowners and volunteers.
For further information on the project (in the first instance) please contact Caroline Kelly, Conservation Officer, Butterfly Conservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01929 406029.