The world of butterflies in the UK has changed pretty drastically in my life time and not for the better.
Over the last 40 years 75% of resident and migratory species of butterflies have declined, according to a new report by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The abundance of these symbols of summer must have been a wonderful sight when I was born in the 1970s.
It really saddens me to think of this loss and what it says about the state of the natural environment. Finding places full of butterflies is becoming a rarity and when you do experience it, as I did on the Isle of Wight in September, it is a mind-blowing experience.
The cause of this dramatic fall in butterfly numbers is clear: an intensification of farming, habitat loss and a changing climate.
Butterflies are brilliant indicators of what is happening to the countryside and coast. And its not looking great.
I don’t want to be part of the generation who lets species of butterfly become extinct in this country. To see less of these little beauties on the wing from spring to autumn was be a massive loss for our quality of life in the UK.
My kids love butterflies. Like so many children they are a great way into nature: watching them flutter by or landing on a flower. I remember the squeal of delight from my daughter when one landed on her hand when we were on holiday last year. And we’ll often see them fluttering across our garden on a sund-drenched day.
There is a need for all of us to shake off the complacency about nature. We can and must do something to reverse the fortunes of butterflies. If they continue to decline other species will suffer a similar fate.
Doing more to make our gardens more wildlife friendly and thinking about taking a landscape approach to nature conservation can help.
I don’t want my kids to grow up in a world where they miss the beauty and wonder of living with butterflies. It would make the world a poorer place and if we all do our bit now then things can change for the better but we must act before its too late.