One of the UK’s most threatened species is facing a ‘race against time’ before being lost to Montgomeryshire, according to a wildlife group.
The Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust are hoping to raise £15,000 by the end of the year to complete habitat work to help safeguard the existence of the Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly, which is present in only 11 sites in Wales today, eight of which are in Montgomeryshire.
“It’s a really rare butterfly, it’s still declining in the UK and it’s a butterfly that was around because of humans doing woodland management and coppicing and as that’s declined in the countryside so the butterfly has declined in response to that,” said Tammy Stretton, conservation offer for MWT.
“It’s a very particular butterfly with very particular needs and it’s an indicator of the increasing degradation of our overall countryside and increasingly variable weather.”
The 2016 ‘State of Nature’ report carried out by leading experts from 50 wildlife and research organisations showed that in Wales, one in 14 species is heading for extinction, with 57 percent of wild plants, 60 percent of butterflies and 40 percent of birds in decline, set against a wider picture which showed that 56 percent of all species in the UK are in decline.
Tammy continued: “Montgomeryshire is a really important place for the Pearl-bordered Fritillary. We’ve been working for over 20 years to try and safeguard the future of this beautiful creature and because of that work it’s still here today but it’s still, unfortunately, on the edge.
“Our increasingly variable weather is having a massive knock-on effect, making it even more vulnerable to changes in its habitats and because there’s such a small number of them left they’re even more vulnerable.”
South facing bracken-covered hillsides are now the main remaining habitat in Wales, but these are vulnerable both to overgrazing by sheep or the abandonment of grazing. Habitat work carried out by staff and volunteers involves clearing scrub and bracken and promoting small flowering plants to create habitat conditions for the species.
“We’ve got funding bids in at the moment but they won’t come off for this winter so we urgently need money to do the management work required. If we don’t do that management work unfortunately we could start to lose the butterfly, it really is that vital,” Tammy added.
n Further information can be found on the Montgomery Wildlife Trust website at http://www.montwt.co.uk/