Project information

Step up the search for butterflies

Butterflies are delicate creatures that react quickly to changes in their environment. This sensitivity makes them a useful indicator species. Butterfly declines provide an early warning to all wildlife. Please support our monitoring work so we can protect wildlife and the world we share.

1 year

Charity information: Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation logo
  • Need


    Butterflies are one of the world’s most diverse species groups, and in the UK are key indicators of the health of the environment. Their population trends influence land management and other environmental policies. It is vital that we improve geographic coverage so that our measures of butterfly abundance are robust and able to inform decision making. Improvements in coverage are required, especially in upland areas of north and west Britain, where many recorders holiday, but few live.


    The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) was established in 2009 to improve our understanding of how butterflies and day-flying moths (and through them other wildlife) are faring in the general countryside. We urgently need funds to develop novel ways to link up recorders on holiday with survey opportunities that improve WCBS coverage. We will develop an interactive website that highlights under-recorded areas and enables recorders to visit them efficiently, and thus contribute to the WCBS.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Better availability of information on under-recorded areas that are targets for coverage improvement


    » Create a website that will show remote locations that are under recorded, and allow people who are visiting these areas to survey these sites

    What success will look like

    This will be demonstrated through more data from areas that were previously under recorded, and a better spread of data across the UK.

    Aim 2

    Increase the number of people taking part in the WCBS


    » Promote the new website, making the scheme more accessible for new people, and promoting the scheme to as wide an audience as possible.

    What success will look like

    This will be demonstrated by an increase in quality data gathered from previously under recorded upland and lowland areas.

    Aim 3

    Improved coverage of upland and lowland areas


    » Analyse the changing proportion of WCBS areas classed as upland and lowland

    What success will look like

    This will be demonstrated through an increased proportion of upland and lowland areas being recorded.

    Aim 4

    Improved quality of butterfly and moth population data from the WCBS


    » Compile population trends and look for improvements in spatial coverage and increased accuracy of trends.

    What success will look like

    This will be demonstrated through higher quality data over a wider area, including previously under recorded upland and lowland sites.

  • Impact


    In the long term this project will ensure the WCBS continues to grow as a robust monitoring scheme, which provides scientifically robust data, used in our conservation work, and used by the Government to inform policy. It will ensure we have consistent data across the UK to inform our conservation objectives. It will also encourage more people to engage with nature, spending more time outdoors, and learning more about our wildlife.


    A potential risk is access issues with the allocated recording areas, this will be overcome by providing a letter to be sent to landowners, or offering to contact them directly. Bad weather is a potential risk, however we will minimise the impact of this by having a weather forecast widget on the website and promoting good weather days via social media. There is the risk of a virus attack on the website however we can reduce this through the use of a secure IT system.


    All donors will be thanked and given the option to subscribe to the WCBS enewsletter, which will include information on this work, and updates on results. We will update Butterfly Conservation members and other supporters through social media, blogs and our monthly e-newsletter, All Aflutter.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £20,400

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      Amount Heading Description
      £6,000 Website creation Design and production of a website to show remote locations that are under recorded
      £2,000 Promotion of WCBS Promotion of the new website to our current supporters and to the public
      £2,000 Analysis & review current data Staff time to analyse the current data to identify the areas that are under recorded
      £3,000 Volunteer training Training of volunteers to undertake recording for WCBS including production of resources.
      £2,500 Analysis and review of outcome Staff time to review the data gathered to be used to assess project success and inform conservation.
      £900 Promotional flyer Design and print of a promotional flyer to be sent in our membership magazine to promote WCBS
      £2,000 Technical support Support for recorders taking part in WCBS
      £2,000 Survey packs Production of packs for recorders, including landowner letters and ID charts
  • Background


    The WCBS covers all of the UK. This project will allow us to gather data on under recorded areas (both upland and lowland), which is critical in identifying priorities for action and evaluating the effectiveness of our conservation measures.

    WCBS is run in partnership with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC),


    Butterfly declines tell us about the health of our countryside, gardens, towns and cities. Their declines reveal the health of the environment as a whole. Butterflies are officially recognised by the Government as an indicator group. This means trends in our data are used to inform policy decisions that will protect all UK wildlife. This project will also encourage more people to get involved with monitoring, and spending more time outside, which has numerous health benefits.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Butterfly Conservation runs schemes to monitor butterflies and moths which involve over 15,000 volunteer recorders. The data gathered in our world-renowned schemes is used by the Government to indicate the health of the environment at national, UK and European levels and to assess the effects of environment pressures on biodiversity. In 2015 we published 'The State of the UK’s Butterflies 2015' report with analysis of butterfly trends based upon data from WCBS and our other recording schemes.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Zoe Randle

    Dr Randle will oversee the creation of the new website, including identifying key sites that are under recorded.

    WCBS Co-Ordinators

    Also known as Champions, these individuals provide local advice to our volunteer recorders.

    James Driscoll

    James is Head of IT at Butterfly Conservation and will oversee delivery of the website.