Volunteers are being recruited to a conservation site adjacent to Westcott Venture Park to help endangered species of butterfly survive and thrive.
The Upper Thames Branch of Butterfly Conservation have long been aware of the variety of butterflies living along an old, disused railway cutting on the west side of the park. These include the five British Hairstreak species, the Dingy Skipper and Grizzled Skipper, all of which are under serious threat from habitat loss in the UK.
Because the cutting has received no attention since the railway closed, the site is slowly being consumed by hawthorn scrub and will eventually turn into woodland so losing its open areas and those important butterfly species.
Chiltern Rangers along with fellow conservationists are arranging one-day conservation sessions to reduce the scrub from the eastern embankment which is still open in places.
Paul Stack of Chiltern Rangers said: “So far we’ve had two successful sessions to help conserve this special place.
“We had more than 30 volunteers including young people on work experience, newly qualified students looking to move into wildlife conservation, long term young adult volunteers with special educational needs and older participants.
“They significantly reduced the scrub encroachment that threatens all the short turf species living there.”
Organisers hope this will be the start of a long-term annual programme to ensure this special habitat for insects and flora is conserved. A total of £1,750 has also been raised from Butterfly Conservation and the Rothschild Foundation to support five days of ranger time at the site this year.
Paul added: “We would like to invite local businesses to join in future sessions as it’s a wonderful opportunity to invest in a team's wellbeing and contribute towards meeting corporate social responsibility targets as we work together to improve the biodiversity in our area.”
Colin Theobald, director of Lambert Smith Hampton and managing agent of Westcott, said: ”Ecology and sustainability were core principles for site owner PATRIZIA and the management team at Westcott.
“We are delighted to help support these priority species of butterflies. Apart from the environmental benefits, tenants appreciate being able to work in such a natural environment. This initiative further supports our commitment to providing space and security for sustainable growth.”
Should you wish to get involved and support the project either as an individual, with a volunteer group or company please contact Paul Stack on firstname.lastname@example.org