Woodlands provide vital habitats for butterflies and the woodlands managed by Forestry Commission Wales are home to some of Britain’s most endangered species of butterfly.
One of these sites - Slade woodland near Magor in Monmouthshire - is one of the most important sites for butterflies in South East Wales.
Now, thanks to a survey carried out by Butterfly Conservation on behalf of Forestry Commission Wales, work is underway in Slade woodland to improve the habitat for butterflies and help maintain or even increase their populations.
The survey took place this summer and established the population of three species that are in need of particular help - the White Admiral, Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. These butterflies are heavily dependant on how woodlands are managed for their survival and their numbers are under threat due to factors such as a lack of suitable breeding habitat and food plants.
Forestry Commission Wales’s Conservation Manager Rosalind Codd said, "By identifying the current populations of these three priority species and working out how best to manage Slade woodland to improve their habitat, we can ensure we play our part in securing the long term success of these beautiful creatures."
Three White Admiral butterflies were recorded in Slade woodland and, although the surveyors did not see any Dingy or Grizzled Skippers this year, they have been recorded by volunteers in previous years at the site.
After carrying out the survey, the experts from Butterfly Conservation recommended the best ways of managing Slade woodland to benefit these three priority species.
Butterfly Conservation’s Conservation Officer Clare Williams said, "These butterflies need woodland edges, glades and recently cleared areas to flourish.
"These warm, open areas boost the growth of the woodland plants, such as bird’s-foot-trefoil, that provide butterflies with places to lay their eggs, food for their caterpillars and nectar for the adults.
"We identified several areas in Slade woodland where work is needed to clear trees and vegetation to provide suitable open habitats and encourage the spread of butterfly food plants."
The clearance of some of the vegetation and small birch trees in these areas will be carried out by a local scout group, co-ordinated by Forestry Commission Wales’s Community Ranger.
The work to open up larger areas has been incorporated into the management programme for Slade woodland so that, when conifer trees are thinned, a beneficial habitat for the butterflies will be created by clearing trees from selected areas.
Clare Williams added, "We were pleased to work closely with Forestry Commission Wales.
"By using the results of our survey and monitoring work, we can help target woodland management operations to where they are most needed and help ensure the continued survival of these beautiful creatures."
Slade woodland is open to the public and there is a small parking area at the main barrier into the woods, just north of Rogiet. There are a number of footpaths running through the wood and factsheets about the White Admiral, Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper are available on the Butterfly Conservation website www.butterfly-conservation.org
Photo (copyright Jim Asher/ Butterfly Conservation): White Admiral butterfly
NOTES TO EDITORS
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to other woodland owners and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Mary Galliers, email@example.com, tel: 0300 068 0057
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 100 threatened species of butterfly and moth as well as world-leading recording and monitoring programmes.
For further information, see www.butterfly-conservation.org