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Agro-environment schemes and butterflies: Re-assessing the impacts and improving delivery of BAP targets - BD1446

Research contract BD 1427 was highly successful in establishing a system to assess the performance of butterflies on land entered into agri-environment scheme sites. The research indicated that scheme management was improving conditions for short and medium turf species at the expense of non-target rank grass/scrub species, by controlling scrub and creating a more favourable sward structure for specialist grassland wildlife. However, many of the overall results were not quite statistically significant, because of the time delay required for an overall effect. The aim of this research is to capitalise on the network developed and subsequent years of data, to more fully determine the impacts of agri-environment schemes on butterflies, and to identify the management practices which are leading to population changes (positive and negative) of BAP and other Habitat Specialist butterfly species. The project will (1) enable generic management prescriptions to be identified for butterfly species, (2) help refine scheme prescriptions, and inform regional and national policy (3) measure BAP delivery and SSSI performance, and (4) identify/assess individual site management, to aid decision making by DEFRA Project Officers.

1. To improve the statistical power to detect population trends, by maintaining the data collation network, adding three more years data, adding extra sites and datasets and through a feasibility study to address sampling biases.

2. To re-assess the impacts of agri-environment schemes on butterfly populations, including assessment of the performance of butterflies on scheme sites by BAP priority habitat type and by region, and comparison of the impact of schemes on SSSIs and non SSSIs.

3. To assess the potential of using volunteers to monitor site condition by recording (1) habitat and management changes and (2) sward and vegetation structure (e.g. comparing drop disc data with photographic categories).

4. To acquire detailed habitat and management data on a range of monitored sites, thereby identifying good (and bad) practice, (1) to enable assessment of differing scheme prescriptions, and (2) to develop generic management prescriptions for habitat specialist and Priority BAP butterflies.

5. To provide additional feedback to DEFRA (e.g. to policy staff, ecologists, project officers) on the effectiveness of scheme prescriptions and management recommendations in conserving butterflies and on the other key results generated through BD1427 and the current research.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Agro-environment schemes and butterflies: Re-assessing the impacts and improving delivery of BAP targets   (1127k)
• Final Report - Annex : Agro-environment schemes and butterflies: Re-assessing the impacts and improving delivery of BAP targets   (995k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2002

To: 2005

Cost: £175,063
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Butterfly Conservation
Environmental Protection              
Nature conservation              
Wildlife conservation              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship