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NEWS RELEASE No: 146661 JUNE 2011

Endangered butterflies brought back from the brink in West Midlands forest

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Pearl Bordered Fritillary by Mark E

Endangered butterflies are on the up in the Wyre Forest thanks to work by an environment and heritage scheme in the West Midlands.

The Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme, led by the Forestry Commission, has been working hard in recent years to improve the habitat for declining species of butterfly – and now that work appears to be paying off.

The pearl-bordered fritillary – one of the most rapidly declining species in the UK – was out in ‘extraordinary’ numbers and has been the butterfly most seen flying in the forest recently.

The grizzled skipper butterfly, which is so rare it has not been seen in the Elan Valley pipeline area of the Wyre Forest for several years, has also staged a remarkable comeback with confirmed sightings in what was once a well-known haunt for the species.

Factors that have influenced the resurgence are work by Severn Trent in cutting grass near their Elan Valley pipeline and also Back to Orange management work undertaken through Grow With Wyre which saw the opening up of areas within the forest and the widening of rides.

Dr Jenny Joy, Butterfly Conservation’s senior regional officer for the West Midlands, said:

“This is testament both to the improved management of the pipeline by Severn Trent and the Back to Orange project work. This is a huge success story and really shows how project funding, together with partnership working, can help to reverse the fortunes of our rarest butterflies.

“These numbers are the result of the management work combined with the wonderful spring weather which has helped the pearl-bordered fritillary to spread into many new areas of the forest.”

One area that has seen a particular abundance of pearl bordered fritillary butterflies is by the Elan Valley pipeline in the Longdon area of the forest.

Phil Rudlin, Forestry Commission wildlife ranger, said:

“The high numbers on the Longdon pipeline are a tribute to both the Back to Orange project work and the efforts of Severn Trent who help us manage this hugely important open area of the forest by cutting and removing the grass in late summer. We have worked with Severn Trent for more than ten years to maintain this important habitat, which has always been good – but this year was exceptional.”

Future management of the forest, through measures such as restoration of oak coppice, ride management and the opening up of more heath land within the forest, should help butterfly numbers thrive in the future.

The Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership Scheme consists of organisations including 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


Notes to editor

  1. 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

  2. The Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership programme is being delivered by a partnership of the following organisations.  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.

  3. The Grow With Wyre Landscape Partnership programme is led by the Forestry Commission and was set up to help restore the unique landscape of Wyre, celebrate its rich working history and help protect rare species like butterflies.  This £4 million Scheme is mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is made up from 18 projects, covering biodiversity, community involvement, access, local history, economic regeneration and education.

  4. GrantScape – GrantScape has a fourteen-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.

  5. The Heritage Lottery Fund Landscape Partnership programme is helping bring together members of the community as well as local, regional, and national organisations to deliver schemes which benefit some of the UK’s most outstanding landscapes and rural communities.  Grants range from £250,000 up to £2m.   To date, HLF has awarded £416m to over 2,785 projects for support of the UK's natural heritage.

  6. The Heritage Lottery Fund uses money raised through the National Lottery to sustain and transform a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported 33,900 projects, allocating £4.4billion across the UK, including just under £320million to the West Midlands alone. Website:

  7. Butterfly Conservation  - Butterfly Conservation is the largest butterfly 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 100 threatened species of butterfly and moth as well as world leading recording and monitoring programmes. It helped found Butterfly Conservation Europe, an umbrella organisation aimed at stimulating and co-ordinating the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats across Europe. This has a network of 37 partners in 35 countries. Further information 

Media contacts:
Peter Thaxter, Grow With Wyre Project Manager, on 01905 533838.