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British butterfly populations on the rise
Summer 2019 was the best since 2007 for British butterfly species.

Warmer, wetter summers conducive to the successful development of caterpillars

Following years of decline, butterfly populations in the United Kingdom appear to be on the rise, according to new research.

Figures from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) show that last summer was the best since 1997, with more than half of butterfly species showing higher population levels.

Conservationists say that butterflies most likely benefited from an unusually warm and wet summer, which is conducive to the successful development of caterpillars.

Red admiral populations shot up by a staggering 195 per cent, while painted ladies rose by an enormous 1,993 per cent.

“The results from the 2019 season are really encouraging and provide evidence that the overall rate of decline of butterflies is slowing and for some species being reversed,” explained Professor Tom Brereton, associate director of monitoring and research at Butterfly Conservation.

“Reasons for this include positive conservation through agri-environment schemes, increased woodland cover, climate warming, increases in grazing levels by wild animals and a slowing in the rate of agricultural intensification.”

The species that benefited most from the conditions were the marbled white (up 66 per cent), the dark green fritillary (up 51 per cent), and the meadow brown (up 38 per cent). The rare Lulworth skipper, which is restricted to the Dorset coast, saw a whopping increase of 138 per cent.

But it isn't all good news. Figures also show that the common blue dropped in annual abundance by 54 per cent, the adonis blue by 40 per cent, the green-veined white by 43 per cent and the large white by 40 per cent, with all four species having below-average years.

Conservationists stress that this ongoing decline raises fears for the long-term future of butterflies, whose populations have fallen by 91 per cent in recent years.

“The UKBMS provides an excellent evidence base to help us understand how butterflies are faring,” commented Anna Robinson, monitoring ecologist at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

“This evidence is important to help inform environmental policy to take better account of biodiversity. We are really grateful for the input of the thousands of volunteers who have contributed from 1976 until today, and without whom the scheme would not be possible.”

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is led by Butterfly Conservation, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Joint Nature Conservation Committee. 

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BEVA gives vets access to free membership for three months

News Story 1
 BEVA has announced that it is cutting membership renewal charges for the next three months in order to support all veterinary professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Memberships for all existing BEVA members will be extended until 30 June 2020. Veterinary professionals who are not members of BEVA will also be able to sign up for a free membership until 30 June 2020.

BEVA president Tim Mair said: "In this extraordinary time of global crisis our profession, as with many industries, is under immense pressure. By offering free membership we are giving equine vets easy access to a wealth of supportive resources and online CPD."

To sign up please visit the BEVA website.

Image (c) BEVA. 

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LOVE Gorgie Farm seeking veterinary volunteers

LOVE Gorgie Farm in Edinburgh is looking for people with veterinary and animal care experience, who would be interested in volunteering to help care for its animals during these difficult times.

The community-owned charity farm opened to the public only last month, but decided to close temporarily amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Its three-person team is working to care for the animals behind the scenes and the farm is now operating as a food bank for the public, delivering free breakfasts to local school children.

In an effort to build a contingency plan to secure the welfare of its animals, LOVE Gorgie Farm is looking for volunteers who would be able to step in if any team members fell sick or needed to self-isolate.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to contact gorgie@l-o-v-e.org.uk