LANDOWNERS INVITED TO WORK IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CONSERVATION GROUPS IN COTSWOLDS TO SECURE FUTURE FOR RARE BUTTERFLY

Landowners invited to work in partnership with conservation groups in Cotswolds to secure future for rare butterfly.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board is inviting landowners to start working in partnership with conservation groups to secure the future of a threatened species of butterfly that is found in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, (AONB). The Marsh Fritillary, Eurodryas Aurinia, is a protected European species that was once widespread in Britain, and Europe.

The only established population of the Marsh Fritillary in the Cotswolds AONB is at Strawberry Banks near Stroud, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve.

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has identified that the best way to protect the butterfly is to establish a network of other local sites capable of supporting the Marsh Fritillary should anything happen to the butterfly population at Strawberry Banks. The butterflies are capable of sharp population increases followed by crashes through starvation and the aim would be to create 'back-up' populations at other sites to ensure the survival of the species in the Cotswolds.

Landowners and the media are invited to visit Strawberry Banks near Oakridge Lynch at 11.15am on the 2nd June to find out more about the project and meet representatives from all of the partner organisations involved.

Jenny Phelps the Grasslands Officer for the Cotswolds Conservation Board said:

" We want to demonstrate how all the partner organisations involved are working together and the way that landowners can protect limestone grassland and the survival of this rare butterfly. This can be achieved without compromising the landowners' other interests and objectives."

The Conservation Board is working with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, English Nature, The Rural Development Service (DEFRA), Butterfly Conservation, The National Trust, Gloucestershire Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), The Royal Agricultural College, The University of Gloucestershire, The Gloucester Cattle Society, The Cotswold Sheep Society, The Exmoor Pony Survival Trust and The Cotswold Voluntary Wardens.

Representatives from all of the organisations listed above have been invited to the event.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Please see itinerary attached for a guide to the event. It is directed at landowners and the media are welcome to come along but this will not be a press call and requests for interviews should be made in advance or towards the end of the event.

The event will start at 11.15 am on Friday June 2nd at Oakridge Lynch Village Green, GL6 7NS (by the Church.) Drivers are asked not to park on the green. Could any TV crews who are interested in attending please contact us first.

Contact: Jenny Phelps: Grasslands Officer 01451 862000 / 07841 663604

For general press enquiries contact Claire Cunningham: 01451 862003

The Marsh Fritillary Butterfly Project is part of a larger five year project from the Cotswolds Conservation Board called 'Caring for the Cotswolds'.

It is supported by a £1.4 million grant from the heritage lottery fund and covers three areas; limestone grasslands, drystone walling and local distinctiveness. For more information contact John Tabor at the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

The Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is cared for by the Cotswolds Conservation Board - an independent organisation with 40 members, 17 nominated by local authorities, eight by parish councils and 15 appointed by Government.

With its rolling hills and valleys the Cotswolds is the largest of 40 AONBs in England and Wales and is protected to ensure that its beauty and special character are conserved. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.

Cotswolds Conservation Board The Old Police Station Cotswold Heritage Centre Northleach Gloucestershire GL54 3JH

Tel: 01451 862000 Website: www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk