The high brown fritillary was formerly widespread and locally abundant across much of England and Wales. It has, however, declined very rapidly in the last 50 years and is now extinct over 94% of its former range. In 1994, only 53 definite colonies of the butterfly were known, many of these being very small and possibly not viable in isolation. The main centres of distribution are the limestone outcrops of Morecombe Bay and bracken slopes in Herefordshire, Exmoor andDartmoor. The butterfly is still widespread across much of Europe although it may have experienced local declines.
The high brown fritillary is listed as vulnerable on the GB Red List and is protected by Schedule 5 of the WCA 1981.
Current factors causing loss or decline
Reduction of coppicing.
Cessation of grazing and traditional forms of bracken management.
A full species action plan is being prepared by Butterfly Conservation.
Ecological research by Butterfly Conservation has been commissioned by NE and several reports have been received.
Recent surveys by Butterfly Conservation, National Trust and the Dartmoor National Park Authority have been carried out over most of its current range.
Conservation management has been undertaken on sites on Dartmoor, Exmoor, Herefordshire and Lancashire.
Action plan objectives and targets
Halt the current decline and maintain at least 50 self-sustaining populations.
Encourage spread to 10 additional sites by 2005.
Proposed actions with lead agencies
Policy and legislation
Following further survey and research to identify the ecological requirements of this species, encourage the uptake of incentives for favourable land management on existing and potential sites within the Morecambe Bay area, Dartmoor, Exmoor and Herefordshire, especially through existing ESA and Countryside Stewardship schemes. (ACTION: CC, CCW, NE, MAFF)
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, WOAD)
Encourage the uptake of the Woodland Grant Scheme for coppice restoration and management in the Morecambe Bay area. (ACTION: FA)
Site safeguard and management
Ensure that at least 20 colonies lie within SSSIs across the current geographical range of the species. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Encourage favourable management for the species on existing sites and seek to restore favourable management to former sites where opportunities for colonisation or re-introduction exist. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Species management and protection
Following restoration of the habitat, encourage the spread of the butterfly to 10 additional sites by 2005, using re-introduction techniques if necessary. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Produce a guide for landowners and managers in target areas advising on how to manage land for the butterfly. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Future Research and Monitoring
Promote research into the butterfly’s ecological requirements to identify the management and conservation needs of the butterfly, including research on habitat management techniques and their impact on this species (especially in bracken habitats). (ACTION: CCW, NE, JNCC)
Investigate the effects of habitat loss and isolation of colonies on genetic variation and population viability. (ACTION: ITE)
Survey all former and potential sites to identify precise breeding areas and suitable sites for re-introduction. (ACTION: CCW, NE, JNCC)
Continue current butterfly monitoring transects on existing sites, collating and analysing data annually to compare trends at individual sites. (ACTION: CCW, NE, JNCC)
Pass information gathered during survey and monitoring of this species to JNCC or BRC so that it can be incorporated in national databases. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Communications and Publicity
Promote opportunities for the appreciation and conservation of the high brown fritillary and its habitat. (ACTION: CCW, NE)
Links with other action plans
Originally published in: Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report - Volume II: Action Plans (December 1995, Tranche 1, Vol 2, p122)
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