Here at Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo we are not just passionate about butterfly conservation, we really work at it. We support sustainable Butterfly Farming worldwide through trade: This devalues collected specimens and preserves rainforest and other habitats.
Once, field naturalists’ clubs could charter an excursion train to the Upper Wye Gorge. Independent tourists would bring rods, guns, tents and even boats by train to “live off the land” in the Upper Wye Gorge. Others would hire all they needed. The owners of farms and cottages bred butterflies for sale. From about 1850 and for the next 60 years, collectors were duped into thinking that they had found rare specimens so that they would leave a large tip and spread the word to the lepidopterist fraternity. The eccentric country sportsman A. B. Farn, a Past President and Fellow of the Entomological Society, retired here a century ago to put an end to this fraud.
Today, there are over thirty indigenous species on the hills around Symonds Yat, but half a dozen of those recorded by “A.B.F.” are extinct. Add our Nature Notes and Spotters’ Guide to your favourites to keep up with the news about butterflies to see on the hills overlooking the Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo month by month. We need volunteer Recorders to establish new butterfly-count transects. Your help will raise the profile of the Wye Gorge for conservation funding in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Come and see us, or if you want to help elsewhere in Britain, contact the charity Butterfly Conservation to work with a group near you.
We manage our own Nature Reserve, which doubles as the Battleground for Wye Valley Warfare LASER OPS. We engaged Barnaby Millard, Conservation Landscape Architect to improve the range of habitats to benefit insects, birds, reptiles and small mammals from the start.
We’ve preserved all the existing habitat zones, and enhanced habitat microdiversity in each one. The tactical obstacles are designed to shelter and sustain wildlife and channel movements of players to protect some areas and in others create ecocline gradation through trampling. This preserves and creates habitat niches suited to the specific preferences of various fauna and flora. They’ll be invaded by the local species bank, naturally increasing biodiversity. We hope to change the habitat classification from “improved grassland” to “wildflower meadow” in three years.
Barnaby has now taken a post with the RHS at Wisley. He was our second Conservation Landscape Architect. We’ve also provided work experience for University College Worcester’s Sustainable Development Advocacy (Professional Practice) MA course, and a paid internship surveying local lepidoptera.