The manufacturing firm behind a Nottinghamshire quarry has joined the fight to save a rare butterfly which was “almost extinct” in the county.
Experts predict the Grizzled Skippers numbers have more than halved in the last 40 years, with Nottinghamshire being one of the areas that has seen a big decline.
Now, East Leake based British Gypsum has teamed up with the Nottinghamshire Biodiversity Action Group to support their work in helping the species.
The company has donated 20 tonnes of railway ballast to create a butterfly habitat near Granby in South Nottinghamshire. This is part of the Grizzled Skipper Project, which has been running since 2012.
It has also created two butterfly banks close to its own head office near Bunny Woods, East Leake. They have been planted with strawberry and cinquefoil plans, which the butterflies feed on at the caterpillar stage.
British Gypsum’s senior estates and minerals planner, Jen Saunders, said: “We had an opportunity to improve an area of our site that would be suitable for the rare Grizzled Skipper butterfly.
“Although the butterfly banks are still in their infancy, we are really pleased to see the planting becoming established.
“We hope it will attract Grizzled Skippers to the area and encourage them to lay their eggs and larvae here.
“Grizzled Skippers have been spotted just 3km to the west on the Great Central Railway line at East Leake.”
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation reported in 2018 that Grizzled Skipper numbers nationally were at their lowest level on record.
The butterflies used to live on bare, open ground near railway lines, but they began disappearing when many branch lines closed and the routes became overgrown.
The species is particular about where it lays its eggs and prefers bare ground close to where the caterpillars’ food grows.
Thanks to the Grizzled Skipper Project in Nottinghamshire there appear to be signs the work taking place is having a positive effect on conservation, according to the charity.
Chris Jackson, biodiversity officer at the biodiversity action group, added: “We are delighted that locally-based companies like British Gypsum are showing support for Nottinghamshire’s biodiversity through initiatives such as the Grizzled Skipper Project and we look forward to working more closely with them in the future.”
The Grizzled Skipper Project manages more than 20 sites in south Nottinghamshire which are known to support the butterfly, had sightings in recent years, or are areas of potentially suitable habitat near known sites.
British Gypsum’s head office is near East Leake, the company extracts the mineral gypsum from Bantycock Quarry near Newark and in August last year announced it would help to create a wildflower meadow in Bunny Woods.