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  • Taskscape Associates

Butterfly Spotting!

The Cranborne Chase Cluster community monitor butterflies...

Volunteer proudly showing off the Small Blue she caught in her net | © FWAG/GWCT

On 14th June, fourteen volunteers attended a pollinators event at Chettle House, in the project's UK Farmer Cluster Cranborne Chase - many returning from the first event.

Here, the group were introduced to butterfly monitoring through Butterfly Conservation and FIT surveys. Butterfly Conservation's surveys, including the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS), track butterfly populations, providing crucial data on trends and declines. The Flower-Insect Timed (FIT) Count is part of the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme, gathering information on flower-visiting insects, aiding conservation efforts.

This session was fascinating and inspiring to the group, who found several Small Blue butterflies on site. Several volunteers have been in touch to say they have since carried out their own FIT survey. 

One participant followed up with the project saying: 

"I'd expected the cluster to be full of motivated and determined people but I felt your group has already moved well beyond that, whilst retaining that enthusiasm and sense of joy in what you are doing. I was left with the very strong impression that this is going to have a significant impact and was so impressed by the team."

Established in February 2022, supported by FRAMEwork, the Cranborne Chase Farmer Cluster consists of 22 farms on 10,000 hectares with conventional and organic farming systems represented. The Cluster focuses on habitat management, soil regeneration, and biodiversity restoration, involving community and conservation groups. Initiatives include installing wildlife boxes, planting hedgerows, cultivating plots for rare plants, meadow management and securing agri-environment funding for these interventions.

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Butterfies and biodiversity loss

In the UK, butterfly populations have faced significant declines, with reports indicating 80% of species have declined since the 1970s. This trend mirrors global concerns, notably with the Eastern migratory monarch butterflies experiencing a 22% drop in their wintering habitat area in one year, highlighting a continuous decline over 25 years. These declines are attributed to habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change, posing risks to biodiversity and agriculture. For more detailed information, visit Butterfly Conservation and World Wildlife Fund.

Butterflies contribute to agricultural systems primarily through pollination. As they move from flower to flower to feed on nectar, they inadvertently transfer pollen. This process facilitates the fertilization of plants, leading to the production of fruits, vegetables, and seeds. This ecological service supports the growth of crops and wild plants, enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem health. Butterflies also have roles as part of the larger ecosystems - helping maintain the balance of other species and serving as indicators of environmental change impacting agricultural practices and yields.


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