Resurgence of high brown fritillary butterfly

High brown fritillary, photo by Neil Hulme

One of the UK’s most threatened butterflies – the high brown fritillary is enjoying a resurgence on Exmoor thanks in part to grant aid from the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund.

In decline since the 1970s, the high brown fritillary is now showing increased abundance and distribution in Exmoor’s Heddon Valley, one its rare strongholds, with last year’s survey results revealing the highest counts since records began.

Much of this success has been thanks to Connecting Habitats, Saving Species: The Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project, a three-year project supported with £18,000 from the Exmoor National Park Authority Partnership Fund in 2011.

Funding for the project, completed in April 2015, has helped deliver land management advice, volunteer support and hands-on scrub removal that has halted the decline of previous decades and restored habitats to allow the high brown fritillary to thrive in future years.

Commenting on the project’s success Jenny Plackett, Butterfly Conservation's Project Officer, said: “'I am really delighted that we are seeing in a turnaround in the fortunes of this beautiful butterfly in the Heddon Valley.

The National Trust and many of the farmers and private landowners in the area have worked really hard to reduce scrub cover and get the grazing management in place, and it's creating much better habitat not only for the butterflies but also for birds and many other species which thrive in the valley.”

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Published: 12 May 2015

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