We are delighted to announce that, thanks to the generous response of the public to the plight of the endangered marsh fritillary butterfly, we are launching a new project to restore this rare species.

Late last year, the Trust issued an urgent appeal to raise £49,200 by the end of February. This was the final amount needed to match a grant from Biffa Award, to purchase 44 acres of land at Upper Minety, North Wiltshire. The land will quadruple the size of the Trust’s existing nature reserve at Emmett Hill and provide vital habitat for the rare, but once flourishing, marsh fritillary butterfly.

Donations from many quarters helped the Trust reach the fundraising target ahead of schedule in February, unlocking £442,941 of funding from Biffa Award, a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives by awarding grants to environmental projects across the UK.

Today, the Trust is celebrating the purchase of the site. Work will begin immediately to make changes to support the butterfly’s long-term recovery. A key part of the Trust’s plan is the introduction of devil’s-bit scabious, a beautiful blue flowering plant that is the preferred food of marsh fritillary caterpillars.

Photograph of devils-bit scabious plant

Devil's-bit scabious plant. Credit: Tony Coultiss

Speaking on behalf of the Trust, Debbie Bentley said:

We are absolutely thrilled at the level of public support for this campaign. When we launched the appeal just before Christmas, we weren’t sure if we’d reach our target in these difficult times. We’re so grateful for the concern shown for this butterfly and the generous personal donations that we have received. Our thanks go out to everyone involved, particularly to Biffa Award for recognising the importance of this project.

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager added:

Biffa Award is extremely privileged to be able to support Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s project to purchase 44.6 acres of land to support the long-term recovery of the rare Marsh fritillary butterfly. It is hugely important that Biffa Award continues to fund projects like this which seek to restore declining species and protect and enhance the habitats that support them. Through our Partnership Grants Scheme we are able to make significant grants to projects that introduce, conserve or protect our wildlife, paving the way for nature’s recovery on a large scale.