A wildlife group believes a loss of habitats suitable for butterflies has led to a major decline in UK populations.
According to a study carried out by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), 72% of species declined in abundance over the past decade, while distributions of more than half of all butterflies also fell.
The reason for the fall in numbers is said to be due to a loss of biodiversity which can be linked to farming, forestry and building practices. The study’s authors say the results stand as evidence that an EU target to prevent biodiversity loss by 2010 was not met.
The report revealed some good news too however, with efforts to halt the decline of some species of butterfly proving successful. Butterfly Conservation said the previously extinct Large Blue species, which was re-introduced to the UK, increased in population and range, while numbers of the nearly-extinct Heath Fritillary also improved.
Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation surveys manager, said: “We know what to do to reverse the long-term declines of many threatened butterflies and, over the last decade, we’ve proved it can be done on countless local sites across the UK.
“What we now need to do is roll out these successful approaches on a bigger scale.”