The status and distribution of butterflies in Cheshire have undergone many changes during the last 100 years, largely due to habitat destruction. These changes have occurred at a faster pace than at any time in recorded history and probably too quickly for many insects to adapt. It is unfortunate that in earlier years, with the lack of any systematic recording, many of these changes will have passed almost unnoticed. Thankfully, in recent years the benefits of butterfly recording have been recognised with contributors to the above Scheme accumulating a database in excess of 220,000 records. This Scheme, operated by the Cheshire & Peak District branch of Butterfly Conservation, provides a free Annual Report to all contributors, although the main benefit of collating the data is its usefulness for conservation purposes.
There seems little doubt that pressures on wildlife will continue, with significant changes in the status and distribution of butterflies being inevitable. The continual spread of urbanisation, road developments and intensive farming methods will all have an impact on butterfly populations. When additional problems, such as pollution and the threat of global warming are taken into account it becomes more essential than ever that we monitor any changes that are occurring in Cheshire. Armed with this information the branch is able to join with other wildlife organisations in formulating strategies to protect butterflies and their habitats.
Recording butterflies is an enjoyable way that we can all contribute to the aims of conservation. This help may take various forms from maintaining a simple garden list, counting butterflies on a favourite walk, or undertaking a systematic survey at a specific locality. If you would like further details on how to participate in this Scheme please contact the following:
Barry T. Shaw (Cheshire County Butterfly Recorder)