Finale for All the Moor Butterflies

March has seen the finale of the All the Moor Butterflies project which, for the last three years, has promoted butterfly conservation on Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.  It is sad that it should come to an end when we are all in lockdown, but it has achieved great things and deserves to be celebrated.

I first started working for butterflies on my land at Common Wood on western Dartmoor in November 2012.  Jenny Plackett from Butterfly Conservation visited in May 2012 and was excited by the potential for butterfly breeding here.  As a result, the doughty Dartmoor Preservation Association Conservation Volunteers have come biannually to bash the gorse and hawthorn and make suitable habitats for Pearl-Bordered and Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries on the slope above the leat.  They have also cleared the willow carr for Marsh Fritillaries on the Rhôs  pasture near the river Tavy.

13 pm

Workers at Common Wood

In 2017 Butterfly Conservation won funding from the National Lottery for the All the Moors Butterfly project.  This meant that Simon Phelps, conservation officer, and Megan Lowe, community engagement officer, joined our work parties and gave us their expertise and shared our enthusiasm.

Simon and Megan

Simon and Megan

When we downed tools for our coffee and lunch breaks they told us how the project was unfolding across the three moors.  I was pleased that my small piece of land was part of the effort to make a better world for butterflies on western Dartmoor.

7 coffee break

Coffee break

The project as a whole has been a tremendous success.  It focused on six species, the three mentioned above, and Heath Fritillary, High Brown Fritillary and the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth.

DNP butterfly leaflet

Centre of Butterflies of Dartmoor National Park pocket guide

There are four demonstration sites (Castle Drogo on Dartmoor; the Heddon Valley and Holnicote Estate on Exmoor, and De Lank quarry and South Penquite Farm on Bodmin) where 117 hectares of habitat have been improved.  Volunteers also worked on a further 165 hectares of priority habitat (including part of Common Wood).  The impressive facts and figures are on Butterfly Conservation’s website.  In particular, the project reached new audiences and opened people’s eyes to the beauty and the importance of butterflies and moths.  Farmers and landowners have been encouraged to manage their land for butterflies.


Pearl-Bordered Fritillary. Photo: Jim Asher

Although the project has ended, it is important that the work carries on  and that all who have been inspired by their involvement will champion the cause.  I shall continue to encourage butterflies to breed on Common Wood, with the invaluable help of the DPA volunteers.  I hope that we shall succeed in creating a butterfly corridor in the Tavy valley.

By the Tavy

Common Wood by the Tavy, a corridor for butterflies

We owe a big thank you to Jenny, Simon and Megan for their hard work in establishing, managing and running this excellent project.

Butterfly Conservation is one of countless charities which will suffer as a result of the coronavirus; please support its great work to ensure that our butterflies and moths can flourish.

About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in AONB, butterflies, Common Wood, Dartmoor, Exmoor, National parks, Natural history, wild country and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Finale for All the Moor Butterflies

  1. Kate, it has been an absolute pleasure working with you and the Dartmoor Preservation Association volunteers. Together we have really improved the habitat at Common Wood, making it a real haven for butterflies and other wildlife. The ‘All the Moor Butterflies’ project did indeed make a real difference, achieving a huge amount for the conservation of our rare fritillary butterflies and helping many people to get closer to butterflies and moths, and to our beautiful South West moorland landscapes. Although the ‘ATMB’ project is over, I hope to be able to continue to work with you and the DPA, hopefully continuing the monitoring (once we are through the restrictions of CV-19), and I’m very keen to come out with you all on a work party in the autumn/winter to continue with the habitat improvements – I’m looking forward to seeing how the site has changed over the last three years! With best wishes, Jenny (South West Regional Conservation Manager, Butterfly Conservation)

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