Tree Appeal patron and renowned botanist David Bellamy took to the trees at Brighton’s Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count 2008 to celebrate the city’s leadership on environmental issues.
Professor Bellamy was in Brighton helping Tree Appeal and Family Investments to plant special Wych elms at the Dorothy Stringer School’s new Butterfly Haven. Professor Bellamy also visited a range of urban and rural habitats in the area which formed part of the Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count 2008, a joint project of the Dorothy Stringer School and Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Butterflies are used as an ‘indicator species’ as their success reflects the health of local ecosystems, so by counting the variety and number of local butterfly species, experts can monitor local biodiversity.
“Butterflies and moths respond quickly to any small changes in their environment and are good indicators of the health of many habitats,” explained Brighton & Hove Ecologist Matthew Thomas. “If we know what is happening to butterfly populations we can get a better idea of what is happening to the rest of the ecosystems in which they live and we can use this information to improve our site management plans.”
Martin Pett, Brighton & Hove School Grounds Biodiversity Action Plan Officer, said, “The Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count has been organised to promote the importance of biodiversity throughout the city. The whole event has proved very successful, reaching around 500 school children through the week as well as over a hundred people during the butterfly walks.”
Commenting on Brighton’s achievements, Professor Bellamy said, “A big Wow! for Brighton, who are really leading the way for the rest of country on biodiversity. All the work done by the city’s schools and communities, the Sussex Wildlife Trust, Family Investments and the Urban & Countryside Rangers is brilliant for bringing back native wildlife to this area. The government is looking for role models on the environment and I think Brighton is definitely leading the way in stitching the world back together into biodiverse working order!”
Investing in a Greener Future
Following their sponsorship of over 1500 trees planted at the Dorothy Stringer School campus last November, staff from Family Investments returned to plant Wych elms at the new Butterfly Haven.
The Butterfly Haven, opened by David Bellamy as part of the Big Biodiversity Butterfly Count 2008, is designed to attract as many species of butterfly as possible, including the elm-dwelling White-Letter Hairstreak. The Haven is based around an area of topographically altered chalk grassland slope, modified to change the temperature at ground level to encourage the colonisation of rare downland invertebrates, and is planted with a variety of shrubs and wildflowers.
Brighton-based Family Investments plant a tree for every one of their Ethical Child Trust Funds opened, investing in the environment for the benefit of future generations through Tree Appeal, and at the Dorothy Stringer School they have been able to help plant those trees and see how they have contributed to the school community. By planting elms in the Haven, Family Investments are also supporting local butterfly populations and biodiversity.
Whilst at the campus, the Family Investments team also took the opportunity to revisit the trees previously donated to the school. Partnership Account Manager Donna Morris said, ‘”Family Investments were delighted to be invited back to Dorothy Stringer to see how our trees were doing and to take part in their Biodiversity Event. It was amazing to see how much the Butterfly Haven had evolved in just a few months!
“David Bellamy once again entertained everyone with his engaging stories and enthusiasm for nature and the environment. It was fantastic to meet so many pupils, teachers and parents who really care about the environment they live in. We’re very grateful for the Tree Appeal who put us in touch with the school and we hope to get involved in future events.”
Brighton & Hove’s “Big Nature” is the name given to a loose association of different organisations which, as well as Tree Appeal, include: Brighton & Hove City Council, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Sussex Branch of Butterfly Conservation and Dorothy Stringer Environmental Partnership, who have come together to deliver a series of biodiversity related events during 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). The aim is to involve and inspire people with their local wildlife and Big Nature as a synonym for biodiversity is a concept easy for children to understand.