SCOTS volunteers are being sought to help enhance the habitat for one of the UK’s most endangered butterflies.
Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS) and Forestry & Land Scotland (FLS) are looking for volunteers to help “bash the bracken” in the Trossachs next month.
The conservation volunteer workday – on 25 November 2023 – is being organised on a woodland site at Loch Katrine.
Volunteers will be helping to remove the dead bracken fronds that prevent other plants growing.
A second “bracken bash” will take place in early summer next year, to restrict the growth of the bracken.
Dead bracken prevents the growth of wildflowers, including violets – the only flowers that the caterpillars of the endangered pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly will eat.
By raking away the dead material, sunlight will be able to reach the soil. This will stimulate the growth of violet seeds in the ground.
The pearl-bordered fritillary is one of the most threatened butterflies in the UK – the State of UK Butterflies 2022 report found that this species has declined by 88% since 1976.
The work will take place in a corner of Great Trossachs National Nature Reserve of Loch Katrine.
Here, the butterflies were thought to be extinct, however, a population of them was rediscovered and found in an area where there is significant native woodland restoration ongoing.
These newly created woodlands are providing excellent habitat, ideal for the fritillaries to colonise.
Katy Anderson, FLS Environment Manager said: “This type of conservation and habitat enhancement work is so important to protecting species of all kinds – in this case, a beautiful and rare butterfly.
“The Trossachs could be regarded as the last stronghold of this species in central Scotland.
We’re looking forward to working with volunteers to ‘bash the bracken’ and give this lovely butterfly a helping hand.”
Anthony McCluskey, Conservation Manager with BCS said: “We all love seeing butterflies, but many species have become endangered.
“The pearl-bordered fritillary was identified as one of the priorities for conservation in Scotland some years ago.
“It’s a fantastic example of how the invaluable help of volunteers can make a real difference.
“We will know it’s been successful when we start to see young violet plants appear and butterflies laying their eggs on them.”
Further detailed survey work will help inform ongoing conservation management to help protect the species.
Forestry & Land Scotland is engaged in several projects in Scotland to manage their forests to specifically provide habitats that the PBF butterflies need including Mabie, in south-west Scotland.