Durlston Country Park gets £10k funding to fix 'much loved jewel of the grasslands'

Bournemouth Echo: WING AND A PRAYER: The rare Chalkhill Blue butterfly WING AND A PRAYER: The rare Chalkhill Blue butterfly

DURLSTON Country Park has secured almost £10,000 funding to help reverse the decline of a “much loved jewel of the grasslands”.

The Chalkhill Blue butterfly has increasingly become a rare sight at the national nature reserve near Swanage, which is owned and managed by Dorset County Council.

Conservationists hope the £9,700, provided by the SITA Trust’s Enriching Nature Programme, will help bankroll a project to restore grasslands, the natural habitat of the Chalkhill Blue.

Park ranger Simon Breeze explained: “Durlston is a magical place for butterflies with the reserve one of the best places in the country for seeing a wide range of species.

“We have been very concerned to see the sad decline of the once abundant Chalkhill Blue.

“However, thanks to funding by the SITA Trust we will be able to restore areas across Durlston to help out this much loved jewel of the grasslands.”

The conservation project will initially focus on the removal of scrub which has encroached across the rich limestone grasslands in recent years.

The hope is that this will promote more areas of the Chalkhill Blue’s preferred habitat, which includes south-facing grassland slopes rich in the caterpillar’s food plant, Horseshoe Vetch.

SITA Trust’s Enriching Nature Programme provides funding for year-long biodiversity conservation projects that focus on priority single species or habitats,.

A spokesman for Durlston Country Park and National Nature Reserve confirmed: “The aim of the project is to restore and conserve the Chalkhill butterfly’s habitat across the reserve’s grasslands to allow the butterfly the opportunity to feed, breed and reproduce as it has historically done across the local landscape.”

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