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Rare butterflies and orchids on abandoned wildlife site boosted by Natural England funding

Rare species including the marsh fritillary butterfly, lesser butterfly orchids and Cladonia lichen communities have been given a boost as their home in Common Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Devon, is improved through funding from Natural England.

Following more than a decade of decline – which saw scrub encroach on the rare delicate grassland – a partnership between Natural England, Putford Parish Council, and Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) has today brought the site back into ‘unfavourable recovering’ condition through Countryside Stewardship (CS) funding. This condition means that the necessary management is now in place for the site to reach favourable condition.

Common Moor SSSI, spanning 55 hectares or more than 60 football pitches, is centrally situated within an arc of six other SSSIs in the North Devonshire countryside, and holds a vital role in connecting green corridors of habitat that allow threatened species to move between locations.

The site is home to an array of rare wildlife – including the charismatic and colourful marsh fritillary butterfly – once widespread in Britain but now threatened across the UK and Europe.

Wesley Smyth, Natural England’s Area Manager for South West, said:

Common Moor is a fantastic example of the difference that Countryside Stewardship can make to help secure the future of rare plants and animals.

Strong partnership working between Natural England, the Devon Wildlife Trust and the Parish Council has brought the SSSI back into a recovering position, with more investment and support to come.

This is a celebration of our partners’ commitment to nature conservation, and a springboard to future successes for the area.

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