Habitat secured for endangered butterfly

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to announce that, thanks to the generous response of the public to the plight of the endangered marsh fritillary butterfly, a new project to restore this rare species can now go ahead in 2021.

An urgent appeal to raise £49,200 by the end of February, the final amount needed on top of grant funding from Biffa Award in order to secure the purchase of 44 acres of land at Upper Minety, North Wiltshire, was launched late last year. The land is earmarked to provide vital habitat for the rare, but once flourishing, Marsh fritillary butterfly and will quadruple the size of the Trust’s existing wildlife reserve at Emmett Hill.

Donations from many quarters exceeded the fundraising target ahead of schedule in February, helping to unlock £442,941 of further funding from Biffa Award, a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives by awarding grants to environmental projects across the UK.

This funding will enable the Trust to proceed with the purchase of the site, and this year will see the start of the changes aimed at supporting the butterfly’s long-term recovery – in particular a new management plan to seed devil’s-bit scabious, the butterfly’s chosen food source across the two adjoining sites.

Speaking on behalf of the Trust, Debbie Bentley said: 

“We are absolutely thrilled at the level of public support for this campaign. When we launched the appeal just before Christmas, we weren’t sure if we’d reach our target in these difficult times. We’re so grateful for the concern shown for this butterfly and the generous personal donations that we have received. Our thanks go out to everyone involved, particularly to Biffa Award for recognising the importance of this project”.

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager added:

“Biffa Award is extremely privileged to be able to support Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s project to purchase 44.6 acres of land to support the long-term recovery of the rare Marsh fritillary butterfly. It is hugely important that Biffa Award continues to fund projects like this which seek to restore declining species and protect and enhance the habitats that support them. Through our Partnership Grants Scheme we are able to make significant grants to projects that introduce, conserve or protect our wildlife, paving the way for nature’s recovery on a large scale.”

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