Wood White project

Conserving the Wood White butterfly in Northamptonshire's woodlands

Butterfly Conservation has been awarded £113k from SITA Trust to run a three-year project to create sunny woodland rides and glades in a network of 6 different woodlands to help the Wood White Butterfly. Project Officer Sharon Hearle will supervise a programme of practical conservation work on site undertaken by contractors and volunteer work parties. The first rides will be cleared this winter and will help to maintain and restore Wood White habitat.

The Wood White is one of the fastest declining butterflies in the UK and since 2007, a Priority Species in the national Biodiversity Action Plan. The butterfly suffered a 65% decline in distribution between 1970-82 and 1995-2004 and on monitored sites, populations declined by 64% between 1977 and 2004. These declines are ongoing.

Mounting concern about the plight of the Wood White led to plans being developed for a National Recovery Project (led by Butterfly Conservation staff and volunteers), which resulted in the production of a site dossier in 2010, providing a snapshot of the current distribution and status of the Wood White. Only 50 extant sites were identified, 13 (26%) of which may already have recently lost their colonies. The Yardley-Whittlewood Ridge wooded landscape of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire represent one of the few remaining strongholds, with nine sites (nearly 20% of the national total). The following woods are included in this project Bucknell Wood, Hazelborough Forest, Whitefield Wood, Sywell Wood and part of Yardley Chase. Five out of the six sites are managed by the Forestry Commission who have also contributed towards this project.

APPEAL for Butterfly Recorders and Transect Walkers

Monitoring the impact of management on both habitat condition and butterflies will be a very important part of the project. Volunteers to help with timed counts and collecting survey data will be very welcome. There is a 20 year data set of monitoring records at Bucknell, Hazelborough and Yardley Chase undertaken by Andy Patmore which have now ended with his move to Germany. It would be fantastic if volunteers could be found to continue these walks for a couple of hours every week between April and September. Please get in touch if you think you might be able to help and further training is available.

Please email Sharon Hearle Tel: 01638 731648