New habitats to encourage butterflies are being created as part of the brilliant butterflies project which brings together a range of organisations working in partnership in Bromley.
The brilliant butterflies project will create new homes for butterflies and insects through the restoration and creation of chalk grassland, a rare habitat that many species thrive in.
The plans include new habitats to be installed at Bromley’s Biggin Hill Recreation Ground, Coney Hall Recreation Ground, Leaves Green Common and Green Street Green Common, subject to the necessary consents being granted. London Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the Natural History Museum are working with the council and their parks and green space contractor, idverde, also working with the RSPB to create chalk grassland ‘living landscapes’ that will come alive with wildflowers, butterflies and pollinating insects.
The chalky habitats will act as a nature recovery network, connecting these new pockets of wildflowers with the wider nature reserves at Saltbox Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest and West Kent Golf Course under the long term management of idverde, supported by a committed network of volunteers. Residents will be able to experience a snapshot of chalk grassland habitat, and the diversity of species it supports, in everyday places.
Many butterflies and insects are in serious trouble and the State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015 report evidenced that 76 per cent of species have declined over the last 40 years. Butterflies and moths are key indicators of climate change and have been recognised as indicators of biodiversity and a healthy environment. Brilliant butterflies works to enhance the local populations of small blue, grizzled skipper, chalkhill blue and common blue butterflies, and reveal stories of other insects found in these habitats in this part of London.
As the work moves forward, local community groups and residents will be invited to join the project team with opportunities to volunteer and work alongside conservationists to learn about chalk grassland wildflowers and how to identify, monitor and care for the butterfly species they support, all whilst spending quality time at a social distance outdoors. To date, the project has created 17 butterfly habitats across the south London landscape on and adjacent to existing London Wildlife Trust reserves, as well as in community greenspaces such as parks, schools, and road verges.
Councillor William Huntington-Thresher, Executive Councillor for Environment and Community Services said, “We firmly believe that by engaging and involving communities to the long term benefit of our parks, it is possible to achieve fantastic positive outcomes for biodiversity and the wider environment while creating a landscape for people to enjoy. Whilst we are still at a relatively early stage, there is an exciting potential to improve biodiversity by adapting the way we manage our greenspaces, which will not just attract butterflies and other wildlife but make the landscape more engaging for local people too. We are hoping that more residents will be inspired to join or start a Friends of Parks group when the volunteering opportunities come forward in the coming months. We will also be encouraging local schools to use these sites as an educational resource showing conservation in practice.”
John Pemberton, Conservation & Education Manager for idverde Bromley says “Bromley is a special place for London’s habitats and wildlife. The opportunity brilliant butterflies has given us to not only make impactful changes to Bromley’s open spaces for biodiversity but also to further engage local residents with the wildlife on their doorstep cannot be underestimated in its value to both people and nature. This project shows that we can create space for both to thrive in our amenity spaces.”
Catherine Cullen, Project Manager at London Wildlife Trust says “Brilliant butterflies is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of London’s special chalk grassland and the amazing diversity of wildlife it supports. We’re working on our nature reserves in the borough, but also bringing local communities closer to this habitat by creating new havens for butterflies and other insects in local green spaces.”
Steve Bolton, Project Officer Butterfly Conservation says “This project is happening at a great time for butterflies and moths in London. Local authorities are already changing how they look after London’s parks and other green spaces, and many of us are managing our gardens more for wildlife. We hope butterflies such as marbled white and small blue will spread as a result. We want to see these species right in the heart of the community, so people can be involved in bringing these beautiful insects into the places where they live and work”
For more information on brilliant butterflies activities and events, please visit www.wildlondon.org.uk/brilliant-butterflies Information about volunteering at the Bromley sites will follow shortly.
Brilliant butterflies is funded by a Dream Fund Award from the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.