New habitat created for incredibly rare butterfly near Princes Risborough

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly
The Duke of Burgundy butterfly
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A new home for one of the UK’s rarest butterflies has been created near a railway line in Bucks.

On Thursday volunteers from Network Rail joined the Upper Thames Branch of wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation (BC) to create the new habitat for the Duke of Burgundy colony on a patch of land adjacent to the London to Birmingham line near Princes Risborough.

Volunteers help create the habitat

Volunteers help create the habitat

The colony – one of just three found in the county – currently sits on private land close to the town, but the site has recently gone up for sale.

Butterfly Conservation hopes that creating new habitat nearby will encourage the butterflies to expand their range, so whatever happens to their current site, they face a more secure future.

Lucie Anderton, environment manager for Network Rail said: “It’s great to help support Butterfly Conservation. The habitat site is by the railway line which we will be upgrading as part of East West Rail and confirms our commitment to engage with local conservation groups to help preserve and protect the environment.”

Upper Thames Branch Chairman, Nick Bowles said: “The status of this butterfly has been improving in other parts of the UK, but it has been completely lost from Oxfordshire and is in danger of disappearing from Buckinghamshire too.

“We are thrilled that Network Rail not only allowed us to work on this site, a former breeding ground for the butterfly, but also that so many of their staff volunteered to help. This is all part of our efforts to strengthen the Duke’s population and increase the number of colonies in Buckinghamshire.”

A recent report released by BC and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) found that the Duke of Burgundy has recovered from catastrophic declines over the last ten years.

This turn around in fortune can be linked directly to targeted conservation work, so BC is hopeful this current project will help the Duke to recover in Buckinghamshire.

Wildlife lovers are invited to help BC’s Upper Thames Branch with upcoming conservation events. Visit www.butterfly-conservation.org/UTevents for more information.