Conservation project to protect rare butterflies in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 09:05 17 May 2019

Butterfly Conservation group members Dr Phil Sterling, Mandy Floyd and Sharon Hearle at the chalk pit in Chiswell Green. Picture: Malcolm Hull

Butterfly Conservation group members Dr Phil Sterling, Mandy Floyd and Sharon Hearle at the chalk pit in Chiswell Green. Picture: Malcolm Hull

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A project is being launched in St Albans to protect the habitat of small blue butterflies following the closure of Butterfly World.

Herts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation constructed a chalk pit in Chiswell Green to protect small blue butterflies. Picture: Malcolm HullHerts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation constructed a chalk pit in Chiswell Green to protect small blue butterflies. Picture: Malcolm Hull

Members of Herts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation have created a chalk bank in Chiswell Green as a habitat for rare small blue butterflies.

Previously the species built up a large colony at Butterfly World, which closed in 2016, but since then their habitat has not been maintained and there is a risk they will die out.

Mandy Floyd, from the conservation group, said: "We were very involved with the original Butterfly World and we did a weekly walk over the same route which recorded the number of butterflies there were.

"It was the biggest colony of small blue butterflies, which are very rare in Hertfordshire."

Herts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation constructed a chalk pit in Chiswell Green to protect small blue butterflies. Picture: Malcolm HullHerts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation constructed a chalk pit in Chiswell Green to protect small blue butterflies. Picture: Malcolm Hull

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The group has built the chalk bank in St Julian's Meadow in Greenwood Park, near to where Butterfly World originally stood, in the hope that it will encourage the butterflies to remain in the area. They will also be planting kidney vetch, a plant with small yellow flowers that the butterflies need to survive.

Mandy said: "The butterflies need plants that grow in chalk. We've been working with St Stephens Parish Council and they've allowed us to construct a new chalk area.

"We have now laid 60 tonnes of chalk and in time we'll be planting chalk-loving plants which the small blue butterfly equally loves.

Herts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation constructed a chalk pit in Chiswell Green to protect small blue butterflies. Picture: Malcolm HullHerts and Middlesex Butterfly Conservation constructed a chalk pit in Chiswell Green to protect small blue butterflies. Picture: Malcolm Hull

"We are hoping that by recreating a chalk bank in Greenwood Park and planting it with kidney vetch we will encourage them to this new site where they can be seen and the area maintained for their survival.

"St Stephens Parish Council have done a lot over the past 25 years to encourage native butterflies. The chalk bank is just an addition to what they've done already."

The project is officially launching in the lounge of Greenwoord Park Community Centre in Tippendell Lane, Chiswell Green on Sunday, May 26, in partnership with Sustainable St Albans.

The launch party will be held from 10.30am to 12.30pm, and will include a short indoor talk on the plans for the new habitat. There will also be a guided one-mile walk around the wildflower meadow and site of the new chalk bank.

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