SERIOUS MONDAY: PLAN TO SAVE BRITISH BUTTERFLIES FROM EXTINCTION

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Plans have been unveiled for one of the largest conservation projects ever undertaken in the UK.

Butterfly World, to be built at a cost of £25 million, will house more than 10,000 butterflies and if all goes to plan, it should be open within three years.

Butterflies are dying out at an alarming rate in Britain and the man behind the proposal, Clive Farrell, says the project is vital if we are to protect this endangered treasure.

He says Butterfly World will be a  world-class visitor attraction as well as an active conservation vehicle to fund research and community projects.

It promises to be the world’s biggest walk-through butterfly experience and will give equal prominence to both UK and tropical species.

The project, which has the backing of leading environmentalists including David Bellamy, Sir Richard Attenborough and world butterfly expert, Jeremy Thomas, will be built on a site close to the M25 near St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Dr. Thomas says: “Here in the British Isles, an almost silent environmental disaster has been taking place. One that, if not halted now, will soon see the loss of that most beautiful and fragile representation of nature – the butterfly.

“Overall 71% of British butterfly species have declined in the last 20 years. Butterfly losses have outstripped those of birds and plants and strongly support the theory that the world is experiencing a mass extinction event of our own making.

“When the delicate balance of nature is destroyed, the butterfly is almost always one of the first to disappear. So, these findings show the value of butterflies as highly sensitive, early warning indicators of biodiversity loss.
Globally, these losses will be catastrophic for mankind.”

Visitors to Butterfly World are promised thousands of butterflies in the air at any one time, creating a kaleidoscope of movement and colour in the huge dome. Some sections will be submerged to incorporate underground caverns featuring many tropical creatures including scorpions and spiders.

The development will take the shape of a giant butterfly with the dome as its eye and is set to turn the area into one of the richest wild flower meadows in Britain – offering a perfect habitat for butterflies, moths and other endangered species.

Clive Farrell likens the butterfly to canaries that were once used to detect gas in coal mines.
“When their environment is under stress, they are the first to suffer and disappear,” he says. “And during the 20th century, five of Britain ‘s butterfly species and 60 moth species became extinct. Drastic butterfly losses are continually being reported as we destroy their natural habitats at a frightening pace.

“Butterfly World is designed to bring the public into direct contact with some of the most fragile and beautiful wildlife in the world and send out a clarion call on behalf of this endangered treasure.”

He says 10% of profits generated by Butterfly World will go a charitable trust to invest into research, conservation and community projects. An appeal for donations towards its start up costs has already been launched and donations-in-kind are also welcome.

And even if you aren’t a fan of butterflies, the centre still promises a great day out with replica ruins, the flower meadow and collections of tropical plants.

You can view artist impressions and virtual scenes from the proposed centre at  www.butterfly-world.org   

Personally I can’t wait to visit ! Last year, we visited a butterfly hall on Teesside and it was an amazing experience. Walking around in the tropical temperatures with amazingly coloured butterflies passing inches past your face was just incredible.

Susan

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