Almost three quarters of UK butterfly species have decreased in population during the last decade07/12/2011 10:05:54 Common species declining & many species spreading northwards
December 2011. Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) findings show 72% of species declined in abundance over ten years and distributions of 54% of butterflies fell, many sharply.
The results, from The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011 Report, provide further evidence that the European Union target to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010 was not met. But the report also reveals that intensive conservation efforts have started to turn around the fortunes of some of our most endangered butterflies.
Large blue & Heath Fritillary
High Brown Fritillary & Duke of Burgundy
The report shows for the first time that the total number of common and widespread species fell by almost a quarter in 10 years, indicating underlying problems with the UK's environment.
Conservation is the key
Populations of the scarce Marsh Fritillary and the Small Blue have also increased thanks to ongoing work by Butterfly Conservation and its partners.
Dr Martin Warren, chief executive of Butterfly Conservation, said: "We now have firm evidence that targeted effort can reverse the decline of threatened butterflies, so it is especially sad that these hard-fought gains have been put in jeopardy due to Government cut backs in funding. Wildlife recovery needs more not less funding if we are to halt the loss of biodiversity and create a healthy environment for us all to live in."
Butterfly Conservation Surveys Manager Richard Fox said: "Butterflies are the 'canaries in the coalmine' for our environment and this new assessment shows they are in a poor state in 21st Century Britain. Despite grand promises by politicians, rare and common species of butterfly continue to decline in our countryside and towns as a result of farming, forestry and building practices that are hostile to our native wildlife.
Dr Marc Botham, Butterfly Ecologist for CEH, said: ""This new assessment highlights the huge contribution thousands of volunteer recorders make to long-term butterfly monitoring schemes. Without the dedication of these recorders it would be impossible to produce accurate and detailed assessments of how the UK's butterflies are being affected by environmental change."
The report comes from data gathered by two long-running citizen science projects - the Butterflies for the New Millennium (BNM) recording scheme and the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.