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NEWS RELEASE No: 136149 JUNE 2010

Rare and threatened birds and butterflies are set to benefit in Morecambe Bay

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High Brown Fritillary

The Morecambe Bay area in England’s Northwest is the location for a new study that aims to conserve and attract rare and threatened species of birds and butterflies.

The Forestry Commission has commissioned The Environment Partnership (TEP) to carry out a study into under-managed woodland with a view to bringing back traditional techniques such as coppicing, which will benefit rare woodland birds and butterflies.

Threatened species of butterflies such as the High Brown Fritillary  - threatened with UK extinction across the last main colonies in the Morecambe Bay area - and the Pearl Bordered Fritillary need to be conserved as they are dying out. These species depend on open glades for survival since their food (and egg-laying plants) can be shaded out as woodland becomes overgrown.

Equally, open glades and rides provide forage opportunities for woodland birds assisting in their survival.

TEP, the Warrington based environmental specialist, is examining whether woodland management techniques such as coppicing can be increased in the area, which covers almost 55,000 hectares. This could lead to a supply of woodfuel and the creation of jobs in the forestry and heating industry – alongside the conservation of rare wildlife.

Christopher Marrs, environmental consultant at TEP, said:

“Traditional woodland management techniques such as coppicing, thinning and ride management have become unpopular in recent years. However, they are the best way to create more open habitats, which in turn attract more species.

“We are looking at carrying out these techniques as it will also provide woodfuel for a viable market and create jobs in the rural economy.”

James Anderson-Bickley, South Cumbria and North Lancashire Woodland Officer for the Forestry Commission Northwest, said:

“We are committed to this project and are in the process of working with our partners and TEP to conserve the important wildlife that exists in the Morecambe Bay area as well as supporting the rural economy.”

TEP is examining the potential demand for woodfuel products from hotels and schools as part of its study.

Natural England and Butterfly Conservation are also supporting the project as it could lead to the cost effective conservation of open habitats for important species, which are being affected by climate change.

As much of the under-managed woodland is in private ownership, working together and partnership building will be an important part of improving the woodland management.

Funding for the study has been made available from Forestry Commission partnership funding and The English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS), which is managed by the Forestry Commission.

Images are available on request
Pearl Bordered Fritillary (credit Jim Asher)
High Brown Fritillary (credit Peter Eele)

Forestry Commission Northwest
Forestry Commission England runs the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) to support and promote the national and regional delivery of forestry policy, as set out in the Government's Rural Strategy. EWGS is part of the Defra family of environmental support. Further information about these schemes can be found at EWGS is a part of the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE).

The Forestry Commission (FC) North West England (NEW) is a regional arm of the Forestry Commission.  It supports the delivery of widespread public benefits across the region, using woodland management and creation as the basis for change. The FC NWE region has a diverse remit; as a grant giving body to the woodland sector; the region's forestry regulatory body; helping the region to address climate change by developing wood fuel supply; supporting and developing the region's forest and woodland industries; actively promoting and protecting the Northwest's natural heritage (especially ancient trees and woodlands) and enabling communities across the region to live healthier lives. For further information visit

For further information about the EWGS contact James Anderson-Bickley at  tel 07774 227640

The Environment Partnership
TEP is a multi-disciplinary practice with a broad base of skills providing environmental consultancy to the public and private sectors. We believe that careful and innovative planning; design and management can avoid, minimise or mitigate potential environmental problems. We have a strong track record in the planning, design, regeneration and management of landscapes for people and wildlife.

TEP brings a keen understanding of clients’ requirements to site selection and project design. We are skilled in assessment of potential opportunities and constraints to identify innovative solutions. Our greatest strength is the dynamic integration of these skills focused on our clients’ requirements.

Margaret Blackburn at Creative Concern
0161 236 0600