Butterfly society adopt stretch of canal to help conservation

Mike Slater, volunteer conservation officer for the Warwickshire branch of the Butterfly Conservation, with John Highmore from the Canal and River Trust, at Fenny Compton.
Mike Slater, volunteer conservation officer for the Warwickshire branch of the Butterfly Conservation, with John Highmore from the Canal and River Trust, at Fenny Compton.

Conservationists have adopted a stretch of canal to help rare butterflies.

The Warwickshire branch of the Butterfly Conservation Society plan to improve the habitat for rare butterflies in Fenny Compton by adopting a stretch of the Oxford Canal.

Mike Slater, volunteer conservation officer for the Warwickshire branch of the Butterfly Conservation, with John Highmore, from the Canal and River Trust, at Fenny Compton

Mike Slater, volunteer conservation officer for the Warwickshire branch of the Butterfly Conservation, with John Highmore, from the Canal and River Trust, at Fenny Compton

The Canal and River Trust offers communities across England and Wales the opportunity to adopt mile-long lengths of canal or river to help transform some of the trust’s 2,000 miles of waterways and grow community ownership for their stretch of water.

The group of butterfly enthusiasts is keen to transform a stretch of the Oxford Canal to increase the numbers of butterflies in the area such as the Grizzled Skipper, Small Blue and the Dingy Skipper.

Set up in early August, the group will be cutting back overgrown vegetation to encourage butterfly friendly plants, creating a butterfly bund covered in colourful plants which offer egg laying opportunities, as well as clearing any litter and tidying up the vegetation along the towpath.

Mike Slater, volunteer conservation officer for the Warwickshire branch of the Butterfly Conservation, said: “The stretch of canal in Fenny Compton is one which our group often visits as the habitat is a perfect home for a number of rare butterflies. We know that if we put the effort into improving their habitat, we’ll be able to see an increase in numbers while also making the area nicer for visitors to enjoy.”

Penny Foster, ecologist for the Canal and River Trust said: “It’s great news for us that the Butterfly Conservation Warwickshire branch has decided to join our community adoption scheme. Their expertise in caring for butterfly rich habitats is fantastic and I’m looking forward to seeing how their attention on this stretch of canal will help rare butterflies such as the Grizzled Skipper thrive.

“Butterflies are also a good biological indicator in general which will help inform our work in the area around habitat development. Canals have had an incredible history over the last 250 years and the growing support from local groups adopting stretches of canal is invaluable to the trust to keep them thriving.”

Local communities are central to being able to care for canals around England and Wales and the trust hopes to work closer with local communities to improve the leisure space the canals offer, help grow people’s pride in their waterways and bring the canals closer to the heart of the community.

The trust will work with groups to understand what work needs to be done, whether it’s to record and improve wildlife habitats, maintain towpaths, help fundraise, run educational events or help combat anti-social behaviour.

Full details about waterway adoptions and other volunteering opportunities can be found at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer/adopt-a-stretch-of-canal-or-river-near-you

To see how the adopted area in Fenny Compton develops, follow Mike Slater on Twitter - @MikeSlater5