The pearl-bordered fritillary was formerly widespread and locally abundant through much of Britain, but has declined very rapidly over the last 50 years in the south of England, and is now extinct over large parts of its former range. Its main centres of distribution are in parts of Wales and southern England, although it is still widespread and abundant at localities in north-west England and in the Highlands of Scotland. It is absent from Northern Ireland. In southern England few large colonies are known, many are small and highly vulnerable to extinction, and the rate of loss of sites is estimated at 39% per decade in central southern England.
The butterfly breeds either in woodland clearings or unimproved grassland habitats with scattered scrub or abundant bracken.
The pearl-bordered fritillary is listed on Schedule 5 of the WCA 1981 (in respect of sale only).
Current factors causing loss or decline
Loss of open clearings and canopy gaps within modern high forest systems.
Cessation of grazing on unimproved grassland and abandonment of traditional bracken and gorse management.
A full action plan is being prepared by Butterfly Conservation.
The species has been re-introduced to at least two reserves in England, and conservation management has been implemented on several others.
New conservation initiatives are being planned by Butterfly Conservation with Forest Enterprise and the Forest Authority, to include targeting of the Woodland Improvement Grant towards coppice restoration.
The species is included in the Scottish Diurnal Lepidoptera Project which is mapping all known records in Scotland and developing habitat management guidelines for the sites in Scotland where it occurs.
Action plan objectives and targets
Halt the current decline by the year 2005, through maintaining viable networks of populations in core areas of distribution.
In the long-term, re-introduce the species to at least 3 sites per previously occupied county, through habitat restoration throughout the butterfly's former range.
Proposed actions with lead agencies
Policy and legislation
Encourage extensive grazing regimes in acid grassland/bracken mosaics where the butterfly survives, promoting the uptake of ESA and Countryside Stewardship and other agreements as appropriate. (ACTION: CC, CCW, NE, MAFF, SNH, SOAEFD, WOAD)
Encourage appropriate woodland management in occupied sites through the WoodlandGrant Scheme. (ACTION: FA)
Ensure the habitat requirements of this species are considered when drawing up or reviewing management prescriptions and grants in ESAs and other agri-environmental schemes, with particular attention to the need for bracken control. (ACTION: MAFF, SOAEFD, WOAD)
Site safeguard and management
Seek to ensure that three large or medium-sized colonies are notified in each Biogeographic Zone or equivalent where the species occurs. (ACTION: CCW, SNH)
Encourage sympathetic habitat management at all sites containing large or medium-sized colonies. (ACTION: CCW, NE, SNH)
Where feasible, encourage restoration of suitable habitats throughout the butterfly’s former range to aid restoration programmes. (ACTION: CCW, NE, SNH)
Species management and protection
Following feasibility assessments and habitat restoration, where necessary, seek to restore populations to at least three sites per previously occupied county. (ACTION: NE)
Ensure site managers are aware of the presence, legal protection and importance of conserving this species, and appropriate methods of management and restoration for its conservation. (ACTION: CCW, NE, SNH)
Future Research and Monitoring
Collate all recent records and update national distribution map by 1998. (ACTION: BRC, JNCC)
Promote surveys to identify the locations of large and medium-sized colonies and to identify potential sites for re-introduction. (ACTION: CCW, NE, SNH)
Encourage further research on habitat requirements and habitat management techniques, especially in unimproved grassland/bracken
habitats. (ACTION: CCW, NE, SNH)
Encourage regular monitoring of extant sites, collating transect data annually and using this information to compare trends on individual sites. (ACTION: NE, JNCC, SNH)
Pass information gathered during survey and monitoring of this species to JNCC or BRC so that it can be incorporated in national databases. (ACTION: NE, SNH)
Communications and Publicity
No action proposed.
Links with other action plans
Originally published in: Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report - Volume II: Action Plans (December 1995, Tranche 1, Vol 2, p126)
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