Rare Heath Fritillary Butterfly Flourishes on Exmoor

Conservationists are celebrating a successful year on Exmoor for one of Britain’s rarest butterflies.

The Heath Fritillary has been in decline in Britain over the last 30 years

The Heath Fritillary – which is brown and orange in colour – has been in decline in Britain over the last 30 years, according to Butterfly Conservation.

Jenny Plackett from the charity said “it is really encouraging that the Heath Fritillary is doing well in Exmoor’s heathy combes”.

Butterfly Conservation is a national charity which is “dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment”.

“Halting the steady decline of the last 20 years is already a huge achievement,” added Jenny.

“Heathland is a particularly rich wildlife habitat and supports some of our rarest species.

“Keeping these sites open for the benefit of the local community and the wildlife that use them is so important.”

Healthland future

Heathland is itself very rare, having declined over the past 50 years due to changes in land management.

Historically, heathland was maintained by traditional practices including grazing and rabbit warrening.

Today many heathland areas have become scrubbed over with young woodland and much of the remaining heathland has become fragmented.

Organisations including The National Trust, The Crown Estate, Forestry Commission and Minehead Town Council have been working to maintain healthland at the Holnicote Estate, west of Minehead, and the Grabbist Hill area.

Paul Camp from The National Trust said: “We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and other organisations in the management of one of the UK’s rarest butterflies.

“Over the past 10 years, the partnership has been crucial in the development of successful habitat management for the long term recovery of the species”.


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