The decline in the number of butterflies in the UK started years ago and at this very moment the decline for most butterfly species is reaching alarming levels. This was one of the reasons that a small group of dedicated naturalists formed Butterfly Conservation back in 1968. The organisation, a charity, has more than 12,000 members and since 1998 Sir David Attenborough has been President of Butterfly Conservation. The aims of this charity are: "We aim to halt and reverse these declines. Our vision is of a world rich in butterflies for future generations to enjoy. We are also committed to the conservation of moths, which are close relatives of butterflies and are in rapid decline." Butterflies are beautiful and intrinsically valuable. Together with moths, their sensitivity to environmental change makes them valuable indicators of the health of the countryside. Today BBC Scotland reported that ten survival zones have been identified in Scotland which are key to saving rare butterfly species from becoming extinct, according to Butterfly Conservation Scotland (BCS). Islay has been identified as one of these ten survival zones for the Marsh Fritillary Butterfly (picture). Continue reading....The other Butterfly survival zones in Scotland are: North Argyll, Lorne and Knapdale, Lochaber, Upper Deeside, Badenoch and Strathspey, Highland Perthshire, Solway, Mull and Moray Firth. According to BCS, Scotland had become a regufe 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. Although butterflies are small insects, we need to think big to save them.
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."