Trust’s link-up with Kew offers hope for endangered butterfly
23 September 2011
A team of Durham Wildlife Trust experts is working with specialists from the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens Kew as part of efforts to save the endangered small pearl bordered fritillary butterfly in County Durham.
Kew is working as project partners with Durham Wildlife Trust in an attempt to grow 20,000 marsh violet plants, the food plant of the larvae of the butterfly which lives only in a few small, fragmented sites in the Trust’s area.
The experts involved in the project hope that planting thousands of the food plants near the existing butterfly habitats will allow the insects to spread out and form new colonies. The project is focused around the villages of Satley and Waskerley in the Heart of Durham area.
The plant-growing stage of the project will take three years after which the food plants will be moved to suitable locations to encourage the butterfly to spread.
Dr Jonathan Winn, the Trust’s Living Landscapes Officer, said: “It is great to be working with a partner such as Kew. We hope that together we will be able to raise enough young marsh violet plants to make a real difference to the small pearl border fritillary’s long term survival in the Durham area”.
Sarah Edwards, the Trust’s Heart of Durham project officer, said: “The butterfly is one of our most endangered creatures and the work with Kew offers us hope that we can bring about a revival of its fortunes. The Small pearl-bordered fritillary is County Durham’s rarest breeding butterfly. Currently the locations of only six small colonies are known within the county. The plants supplied by Kew will play a major role in the success of the Heart of Durham Small pearl-bordered fritillary project over the next few years.”
Dr Viswambharan Sarasan, Head of Conservation Biotechnology at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, who is leading this project at Kew said: “This is an exciting restoration initiative we are proud to be partnering with DWT. We are micropropagating marsh violet from genetically diverse stocks in the Durham area to be used to rescue this rare butterfly.”
About Durham Wildlife Trust
Durham Wildlife Trust's purpose is to protect wildlife and promote nature conservation in County Durham, the City of Sunderland and the boroughs of Gateshead, South Tyneside and Darlington. Through the management of 26 Nature Reserves and a variety of species and habitat recovery projects, the Trust is one of the most active environmental organisations in the region. By acting as a focus for a variety of community groups, schools and individuals, the Trust engages people in the issues around nature conservation and the wider environment. It also manages two visitor centres and campaigns on behalf of more than 8,000 members. For more information www.durhamwt.co.uk
About the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding living collection of plants and world-class Herbarium as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international visitor attraction. Its landscaped 132 hectares and RBG Kew’s country estate, Wakehurst Place, attract nearly 2 million visitors every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009.
Wakehurst Place is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. RBG Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10 per cent of the world's wild flowering plant species (c.30, 000 species). The aim is to conserve 25 per cent by 2020, and its enormous potential for future conservation can only be fulfilled with the support of the public and other funders.
Kew receives funding from the UK Government through Defra for approximately half of its income and is also reliant on support from other sources. Without the voluntary monies raised through membership, donations and grants, Kew would have to significantly scale back activities at a time when, as environmental challenges become ever more acute, its resources and expertise are needed in the world more than ever. Kew needs to raise significant funds both in the UK and overseas. www.kew.org
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