On 25th July a number of Dartmoor farmers and landowners were recognised for their efforts in ‘going the extra mile’ to restore and improve habitat for the fritillary butterflies on Dartmoor.
The Dartmoor Farmers Fritillary Award was run by Butterfly Conservation in partnership with Dartmoor National Park Authority and Natural England, kindly supported by the Dartmoor Sustainable Development Fund. This is part of the ongoing Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project.
Jenny Plackett, Two Moors Project Officer, said “The panel of judges were really impressed by the dedication shown by farmers to conserving butterflies and improving biodiversity on their land, and by the ways in which farmers went above and beyond standard farming practices to improve habitat quality. It’s brilliant that all their hard work is being recognised in this award.”
John Mills of The Langaford Farm Trust was awarded first prize and Dr Nigel Bourn, Director of Conservation for Butterfly Conservation, presented John with a £200 cash prize, together with a framed Marsh Fritillary print by the renowned wildlife illustrator, Richard Lewington.
Rosemary Coleridge and Hazel Coleridge were selected as runners-up for their management at Shapley Farm, receiving a framed Marsh Fritillary print, whilst four applicants were ‘highly commended’ on their conservation work: Carl Allerfeldt at Higher Hurston Farm, Sue Hutchings for her work at Yardworthy Farm and pony grazing for Fernworthy Reservoir, South West Lakes Trust for management at Fernworthy Reservoir, and Mick Jones of The National Trust for his management of Pearl-bordered Fritillary habitat at Castle Drogo.
The habitat improvements carried out as part of the Project have had an encouraging impact on the fritillary butterfly populations on Dartmoor over the last couple of years, with numbers of the nationally rare Marsh Fritillary on the increase, and the rapid declines in the High Brown Fritillary halted. Other rare species have also benefitted from this management work, which has ensured that significant tracts of land have not been abandoned and left to scrub over.
If you would like to help why not join in with the Big Butterfly Count from now until the 7th August? See http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/ for details