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Brighter outlook for butterflies

A butterfly project at Brockham Limeworks in Dorking was given a helping hand by electricity distribution planners at UK Power Networks.

From Press releases - 20 October 2014 12:00 AM

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A butterfly project at Brockham Limeworks in Dorking was given a helping hand by electricity distribution planners at UK Power Networks.

Twenty-one staff spent Thursday (October 16) volunteering as wood cutters at Surrey Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve. The team included planners and property surveyors from the electricity distributor in Hazelwick Avenue, Crawley, and Bircholt Road, Maidstone,

Using bow saws and loppers, the team cleared sycamore, hawthorn and ash saplings to enable the woodland floor to be flooded with light. The tree cutting is part of a grassland management scheme which allows orchids, insects and butterflies to thrive.

Paul Judd, distribution planning engineer, said: “The old quarry allows chalkland species to flourish and creates a unique habitat. Unfortunately, unless it is managed small trees and scrub take over. By clearing the area it allows the introduction of sheep which can carry on the good work where we’ve left off.

“We were working in a secondary woodland copse on a steep ravine where it was quite overgrown. This was our biggest work party yet in the four years we’ve been doing this. It’s very enjoyable and once people get involved it’s quite addictive.”

Following decades of industrial chalk quarrying at Brockham Limeworks, the disused quarry has been reclaimed by nature. Interesting plants, such as orchid species, rock-rose and vipers bugloss, thrive on the chalk grassland of the quarry floor.

The chalk face also reflects sunlight into the quarry, creating a micro-climate which is beneficial to butterflies. It is one of the few areas in the South-East where the silver-spotted skipper can be found.

Steve Glasspool, the ranger at the reserve, said: “Once the trees are cut down, we graze the area with sheep to try to stop the trees coming back – the sheep nibble the buds. We are hoping grass species and wild flowers will come back in the area with benefits for insects, particularly butterflies.

“The amount of work that needs to go into maintaining a small area of scrub is high. We are very pleased with the team’s efforts and what they have done will be beneficial for plants and wildlife.”