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Countryside stewardship scheme and butterflies: A study of plant and butterfly species richness

Biodiversity and Conservation


Butterfly and plant species richness were recorded from 1997 to 2000 on 2 and 6 m grass margins created at three farms in Essex which had entered the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) in October 1996. On both the 2 and 6 m margins there was a significant relationship between the length of hedgerow and the number of plant species observed on the margins, but the seed mixtures used may not have been ideal and natural regeneration should not have been used on the clay soils of Essex. Butterfly species richness was significantly greater on the 2 m margins than on the control sections, and was greater when a higher number of grass species were included in the original seed mixture. Plant species richness was greater on the 6 m margins when established by natural regeneration. CSS grass margins could be improved as butterfly habitats if they are linked to existing habitats such as hedgerows, are sown with a better range of native grasses and herbs and are managed in a way more conducive to wildlife. These changes to the policy of establishment of CSS margins could help combat habitat loss and fragmentation within the countryside.

Author(s): Field, RG; Gardiner, T; Mason, CF; Hill, J

Journal: Biodiversity and Conservation

Year: 2006


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