Thursday 5th March 2015

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is this week launching an appeal to raise £50,000 to purchase one of the most special nature reserves in the county, Daneway Banks, home to the county’s rarest native butterfly, the large blue.

Daneway Banks, in the Sapperton Valley between Stroud and Cirencester, is home to one of the largest known colonies of large blue, which is thriving on the site thanks to a pioneering re-introduction programme, having been declared extinct in the UK in the 1970s.

“We have been given a once-in-a-generation opportunity to buy the site and secure it as a nature reserve forever,” said GWT President, Ellie Harrison. “I’ve only seen one large blue butterfly in my life, but amazingly last year over 2,000 flew at Daneway Banks."


Ellie recently visited Daneway Banks to find out more

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has managed the nature reserve for over 40 years. Now the Trust has a unique ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to purchase the site and support Gloucestershire’s rarest resident to flourish.

Having been a frequent sight for generations in the Cotswolds, numbers of the large blue butterfly fell dramatically in the 20th century and by 1979 it was declared extinct in the UK. Its fortunes reversed when the Large Blue Project reintroduced large blue larvae and eggs from Sweden in the 1980s and 90s to a few very special sites in the UK where the butterflies might have a chance of surviving.

There were two such sites in Gloucestershire, one of which was Daneway Banks where it was introduced in 2002. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust was a key partner in the project, managing the land to make sure conditions were favourable for the large blue. Very soon, the area had become a haven for this beautiful butterfly, and was famous across the UK as a superb example of reintroduction of a native species.

The Trust has worked closely with the University of Oxford, whose research at Daneway Banks has shown that the butterfly is laying eggs on both wild thyme and marjoram – unique amongst all sites in the UK. They predict that this will enable the population to increase in size over the next few years, provided it is managed correctly.

“Having worked with GWT’s excellent conservation team for more than 15 years it is no surprise that the large blue is now flourishing at Daneway Banks. This is now one of the core large blue sites in the whole country and, under the present stewardship, will be crucial to the re-colonisation of many former sites in the Cotswolds,” explained David Simcox, Large Blue Butterfly Project Officer at the University of Oxford.

“This is a national success story and one that the GWT is proud to be part of”, said Roger Mortlock, CEO Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. “We just need to raise £50,000 within the next few weeks. This is a rare opportunity to buy one of the most ecologically important grasslands in the county. We are contacting everyone we know who might be able to help.”

We have already managed to secure funding towards the purchase Daneway Banks. A generous £5,000 donation from local business Grundon Waste Management and further support from people who have given legacies to the Trust has helped to kick start the appeal. But we still needs to raise a further £50,000 within the next few weeks and need your help, please pledge your support today.