Page last updated at 23:44 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 00:44 UK

'Survival zones' for butterflies

Chequered skipper (Pic: Butterfly Conservation Scotland)

Ten "survival zones" are key to saving rare butterfly species from becoming extinct, according to Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS).

The areas identified include Highland Perthshire, Lochaber, North Argyll, Solway and Upper Deeside.

BCS has previously warned that climate change threatens some species.

It said Scotland had become a refuge for butterflies in decline in England and careful management of the zones could safeguard their future.

BCS director, Paul Kirkland, said changes to farming and forestry practices have affected habitats.

He said: "Butterfly Conservation Scotland has identified these 10 Butterfly Survival Zones where we will be focusing our new conservation strategy to re-connect isolated colonies to secure their future.

SURVIVAL ZONES
North Argyll - especially around Loch Creran - pearl-bordered fritillary, chequered skipper and marsh fritillary
Lorne and Knapdale - marsh fritillary and pearl-bordered fritillary
Lochaber - especially Loch Arkaig to Roy Bridge - chequered skipper, pearl-bordered fritillary and marsh fritillary
Upper Deeside - pearl-bordered fritillary
Badenoch and Strathspey - pearl-bordered fritillary
Highland Perthshire - including Rannoch and Breadalbane - pearl-bordered fritillary
Solway - especially Mabie Forest - pearl-bordered fritillary
Mull - marsh fritillary
Islay - marsh fritillary
Moray Firth - especially Culbin - pearl-bordered fritillary

"Although butterflies are small insects, we need to think big to save them.

"Our new focus works with landowners in these key areas to restore habitats, allowing butterflies to spread over a wider area."

The organisation hopes to encourage landowners to use European and government grants to improve and restore habitats.

Projects include introducing managed grazing by livestock of woodlands to create suitable areas for pearl-bordered fritillary and chequered skipper, and restoring grazing on abandoned farmland for the marsh fritillary.

Mr Kirkland said: "Scotland's butterflies have been preserved by landowners, crofters and foresters who have chosen to continue to manage their land in traditional ways, especially in the north and west.

"We do not want to follow England's example of abandoning these practices which has led to these species disappearing."

The "survival zones" announcement comes as parent body, Butterfly Conservation, celebrates its 40th birthday.

It is the world's biggest organisation concerned with Lepidoptera - the name for the order of insects that include butterflies and moths.

Other bodies involved in the new strategy include Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Scottish Agricultural College and Local Biodiversity Action Plan officers.


SEE ALSO
'Mythical' moth rescued from web
02 Jun 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Extinction fear for butterflies
13 May 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Butterflies 'could help tourism'
19 Mar 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Butterfly's rare visit to capital
13 Oct 06 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Climate change brings butterflies
25 Jul 06 |  Scotland
UK butterflies: 'Glimmer of hope'
16 May 06 |  Science/Nature

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