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Wyre Forest environmental project boosts rare butterfly numbers

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Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

An environmental project led by the Forestry Commission and Butterfly Conservation in the Wyre Forest has been hugely successful in boosting the numbers of rare butterflies living in the West Midlands.

Back to Orange, a three-year project, largely funded by SITA Trust, which aimed to conserve the fritillary butterflies of the Wyre Forest, has seen substantial increases in the numbers of many species and a doubling of the wood white butterflies.

For example, not only have the numbers of pearl-bordered fritillaries increased but they have also established new colonies. Another rare species, the wood white, has spread to new areas of the Forest.

There is also good evidence that small pearl-bordered fritillary, dingy skipper and drab looper have moved into project work areas.

Phil Rudlin, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger who worked on the Back to Orange project – which forms part of the Grow With Wyre environmental programme - said:

“The results of this project are fantastic. Butterflies are in decline in many places and we are very lucky to have a good population of such rare butterflies here in the Wyre Forest.

“Projects like this, which give them a boost, can only be good for the future of these insects.”

Unlike in many other areas of the UK, the Wyre Forest is seen as a stronghold for these species of butterfly and numbers have been stable for the past decade. However, the aim of this project was to help ensure the future survival of these species by enabling them to spread further within the forest.

Work has been carried out to remove conifer trees in order to create corridors for the butterflies to spread from isolated areas of habitat to other favourable areas within the forest.

More than 30 volunteers helped to record the numbers of butterflies within the forest during 2010, which, because of the more favourable weather conditions, has been a great year for spotting butterflies.

Mike Williams, Butterfly Conservation’s Landscape Area Champion for Wyre Forest said:

“As well as seeing increased numbers of key species, the project has also been very successful in involving more people in recording and monitoring butterflies. Without this input we would not be able to produce the evidence of increased numbers and dispersal. It will be important that this tremendous volunteer effort continues in the future so that we can make sure the success of the past three years is sustained.”



  1. Images of fritillary butterflies are available by calling 01524-782086.

  2. The Forestry Commission is the lead partner in the Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme, joined by Natural England, Shropshire County Council, Bewdley Development Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Worcester County Council, Wyre Forest Study Group, Wyre Community Land Trust, Wyre Forest District Council, Bewdley Development Trust and the National Trust.  For more information about the Grow With Wyre projects visit

  3. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants; tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. For further information, visit The Forestry Commission is the Lead Partner in the ‘Grow With Wyre’ Scheme.

  4. The Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme is being delivered by a partnership of the following organisations; Heritage Lottery Fund, Forestry Commission, Natural England, Wyre Forest District Council, Worcestershire County Council, Butterfly Conservation, Shropshire County Council, Wyre Forest Community Land Trust, Wyre Forest Study Group, National Trust and Bewdley Development Trust.

  5. SITA Trust - SITA Trust was set up in 1997 and runs two major funding programmes including Enriching Nature – for biodiversity projects in England.  To date SITA Trust has committed over £74 million to more than 2000 projects. For more info see Landfill tax was introduced in 1996 to encourage more sustainable ways of managing waste. The landfill tax legislation also brought about the Landfill Communities Fund. This scheme allows landfill operators to voluntarily donate 5.5 % of their landfill tax liability to environmental improvement projects. The Landfill Communities Fund is independently regulated on behalf of HM Government’s Revenue & Customs by ENTRUST.

  6. Butterfly Conservation is the largest insect conservation charity in Europe with nearly 15,000 members in the UK. Its aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. It runs conservation programmes on over 60 threatened species of butterfly and moth and manages over 30 nature reserves. Further information  Much work is delivered through the charity’s regional branches and the West Midlands branch holds an annual programme of events aimed at raising awareness of the region’s butterflies and moths (

  7. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a Stage One pass of £1.86 million to the Grow With Wyre’ Landscape Partnership Scheme.  HLF enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From our great museums and historic buildings to local parks and beauty spots or recording and celebrating traditions, customs and history, HLF grants open up our nation’s heritage for everyone to enjoy. They have supported more than 33,900 projects, allocating £4.4billion across the UK.  Website:

  8. GrantScape – GrantScape has a twelve-year environmental and community grant-making heritage. It is also a major funder of biodiversity projects across England and Wales (see  Since 2005, GrantScape has awarded some £10 million through its Biodiversity Challenge Fund to 25 major projects considered to deliver the most significant gains for UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) priority habitats and species. Grow with Wyre’s “Rejuvenating Traditional Orchards, Special Trees and Ancient Hedgerows” project was one of six grant award winners under its 2007 Biodiversity Challenge Fund.  The £294,000 grant from GrantScape is also being made available through the Landfill Communities Fund, using monies provided by Waste Recycling Group Ltd.

Phil Rudlin (Forestry Commission) on 01299 266302 or email or 
Mike Williams (West Midlands Butterfly Conservation ) on  07802 274552or e-mail  Alternatively contact
Bob Griffiths (Wyre Forest Landscape Partnership/Forestry Commission) on 01299-269228 or email or contact Alison Coggon (Administrative Officer - Grow With Wyre) on 01584-813828 or email or
Jools Mackin, Communications Manager SITA Trust on 01454 262940 or 07870 253048 email