Thursday, April 1, 2010

1) Listen out for a piece on His Imperial Majesty, in larval form, on
BBC Radio 4's Saving Species programme, on Tues April 6th at 11am,
repeated on Thurs April 8th at 9pm.

2) Movement! I am pleased to report that one of my larvae has moved out
of hibernation low on a stem and has positioned itself next to a
swelling bud. A few of them are starting to change colour. Spring is
in the air!

3) Straits Inclosure, Alice Holt Forest. To update you on the saga of
the felling of sallows along the main ride through Straits Inclosure.
The issue was taken up by the UK Butterflies and Learn About Butterflies
websites, and in consequence the FC office at Alice Holt received a
significant number of complaints from butterfly enthusiasts. Whether
the FC will be able to change their practices along made-up rides (which
they call roads) is another matter, as these surfaces are civil
engineering constructions that have to meet certain specifications. The
real challenge in Straits, and many other forestry woods, is to
establish sallow sanctuaries off-ride along the forest roads, rides and
paths, away from the drainage ditches, by cutting back the crop locally.
The overlying problem is that the crop generally reaches right to the
roads / rides / paths / tracks. The FC is keen to create more of these
off-line sallow areas, and to that end three sizeable scallops were
created off the main ride in Straits during the sensitive thinning works
carried out in the east half of the wood during the autumn of 2007.
Sallows are becoming established in these scallops, though the process
could be speeded up by planting cuttings or seedlings. Further scallops
need to be created when thinning takes place in the western half of the
wood. There are some useful experiments along these lines in the FC's
Chiddingfold Forest.

The saga emphasises several things. First, the importance of
communication, even when relationships are good. Secondly, the scale of
protest indicates the growing love people have for our forests, and the
increasing expectations being placed on those who manage them (no way
would other conservation bodies have got away with ride-side felling
like that!). Thirdly, it illustrates the extent to which this
particular butterfly is becoming valued - and we will ensure that this
will grow further. Finally, butterfly people have the potential to
become quite an effective lobby. Of course, to people of Purple
Persuasion the Straits Inclosure is the equivalent of one of the lesser

Meanwhile, spring continues to be very slow. The weather has
deteriorated into cold and wet. I've only seen four species.


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