The Mynydd Mawr Marsh Fritillary Project at Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire
Find out more about Butterfly Conservation at: www.butterfly-conservation.org
Wales is home to some of the strongest UK populations of the charismatic Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia butterfly. Yet even here many colonies are under serious threat from the loss and degradation of their damp grassland 'rhos pasture'. habitat.
The Mynydd Mawr Marsh Fritillary Project is a partnership between Butterfly Conservation and CCW and is working with Carmarthenshire landowners on a landscape scale, to protect and enhance some of Wales' best sites for the Marsh Fritillary. We hope to reverse the effects of years of habitat decline in this key area at Cross Hands, part of which has been designated a Special Area of Conservation precisely because of its Marsh Fritillaries.
The Marsh Fritillary and its damp grassland (rhos pasture) are threatened by:
- Lack of suitable grazing, under which a dense cover of purple moor–grass and/or scrub develops.
- Overgrazing, particularly by horses, which alters the tussocky vegetation structure.
- Haycutting and topping, which damage the sward structure and the caterpillars.
- Development (housing, business parks and roads).
We are working with local landowners around Cross Hands to improve conditions for the rare and beautiful Marsh Fritillary butterfly, and all the other fantastic wildlife that lives here. The Marsh Fritillary has declined dramatically throughout Britain and Europe, but we are extremely lucky to still have good numbers. Now is our chance to ensure their future. Their needs are simple: grazed tussocky grassland with the Devil's–bit Scabious, which is the only plant that the caterpillars will eat.
Landowners are signing up to 5–year management agreements. They have agreed to lightly graze their sites (with ponies, horses or cattle) and we are providing them with annual management payments and funding for fencing, water supplies, scrub clearance, etc. We are linking landowners who have no livestock with others who have livestock but not enough land, and we use local contractors to do fencing, put in water supplies, etc. Volunteers help the project by checking some of the livestock for the owners, and doing surveys.
Please contact the Project Officer, Deborah Sazer for more information