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Forestry Commission Scotland and Butterfly Conservation Scotland celebrated International Day of Biodiversity on the 22nd May with the opening of a new nature trail through Mabie Forest, and the launch of a guide to identifying butterflies found across the region.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, through the Sulwath Connections project, the trail winds through the forest’s popular nature reserve, which is home to a wealth of wildlife including the scarce pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly.
Seasonal information boards and sculptures line the new nature trail which starts part way on the main waymarked route within the reserve. There’s a picnic area also to enable visitors to have a stop-off and take in the wildlife on the nature trail.
Bill Meadows, Forestry Commission Scotland’s district manager in Dumfries and the Borders said:
“Butterflies are good indicators of environmental quality, and with twenty two species recorded in Mabie Forest, we can be confident that the work by the Commission to care for their habitats is proving successful.
“We are committed to the sympathetic management of all our forests across Scotland to protect endangered wildlife, and with specialist support from partners such as Butterfly Conservation Scotland we can work together to create national forests that balance the needs of conservation with timber production and recreation.”
The identification leaflet was funded by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Dumfries & Galloway and South Ayrshire Councils, and the local branch of Butterfly Conservation.
SNH’s Area Manager for Dumfries and Galloway, Chris Miles, added:
“We are delighted to have been able to fund such a high quality leaflet with our partners. Equally we are always supportive of projects which help get people into the outdoors and appreciate nature.
“Our region has such a rich range of butterflies and this leaflet will help people to enjoy them and hopefully encourage them to gather information about their distribution. This will help local action to look after this vital part of our biodiversity which is especially important in this International Year of Biodiversity.“
Paul Kirkland, Director, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, added:
"The collaboration between Butterfly Conservation and Forestry Commission at Mabie Forest is working well, and it is fitting that both organisations celebrated International Day of Biodiversity at this wonderfully varied and attractive site. The fact that we saw well over one hundred pearl-bordered fritillaries enjoying the glorious sunshine was the icing on the cake".
The day was well supported by members of the newly formed Dumfries and Galloway butterfly group, as well as local families and wildlife enthusiasts.
Notes to editor:
1. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government's forestry directorate. For more information log on to www.forestry.gov.uk/aboutfcs
2. For more information about the Commission’s biodiversity programme Woods for Nature log on to www.forestry.gov.uk/woodsfornature
3. Published in 2004, Scotland's Biodiversity Strategy sets out the Scottish Government's 25-year framework for action to conserve and enhance biodiversity in Scotland. It recognises biodiversity as an important dimension of sustainable development and acknowledges the importance and value of biodiversity both to the economy and to future generations. www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/Wildlife-Habitats/16118/BiodiversityStrategy
4. The pearl-bordered fritillary is one of the most threatened butterflies in the UK, although populations in Scotland are doing less badly than in England and Wales. The most recent data we have is that over the last 25 years, it's Scottish range has declined by 30% (in England and Wales the figure is more than twice this). Mabie has by far the best population in southern Scotland.
5. Butterfly Conservation Scotland has three regional branches covering Scotland, and as our membership continues to grow, we are organising sub-groups, with the Dumfries and Galloway group formed earlier this year.
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 www.butterfly-conservation.org
6. For media enquiries please contact Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.