Silver-studded blue butterfly recovers after nature reserve fire

From British daily The Independent:

Against all odds, rare butterfly rises from ashes of burnt nature reserve

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

Monday, 14 July 2008

One of Britain’s most precious nature reserves has made a remarkable comeback from a fire which devastated it two years ago today.

Thursley Common, near Godalming in Surrey, was thought to have lost much of its specialised heathland wildlife in the blaze which swept across its 400 acres, home to scarce birds such as Dartford warblers, nightjars and woodlarks, and a stronghold of the very rare silver-studded blue butterfly.

But the iconic silver-studded blue is again thriving at Thursley, the site’s owners, Natural England, have found, and the reserve, one of the best remaining examples of lowland heath, is recovering strongly.

In 2006, nearly 120 firefighters battled to save the common after it went up in tinder-dry conditions – arson was suspected – and at the time it was feared the fire could lead to irreversible wildlife losses. But monitoring results show that the efforts of firefighters, conservationists and local volunteers were not in vain. Simon Nobes of Natural England, the senior reserve manager for Thursley, worked with firefighters to save the silver-studded blue colonies, which have become confined to just a handful of sites in England and Wales. “On our survey last week we found 126 butterflies at one location, an increase of more than 100 since after the fire,” he said.

See also here.

It is to be hoped for the butterflies and other wildlife at Thursley Common that, if there should be a fire there again, it will be fought by firefighting professionals; not by privatized mercenaries, as the British government seems to prefer.

£88,000 project to boost Wood White butterfly in Herefordshire: here.

Dunsdon National Nature Reserve expansion a boost for butterflies: here.

Purple emperor butterfly: here. And here.

April 2009. UK Butterfly numbers have fallen to a new low, according to data from the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme: here.

7 thoughts on “Silver-studded blue butterfly recovers after nature reserve fire

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