Students’ restoration work sees return of the Woodman’s Friend

Foundation degree students enrolled on the Environmental Conservation and Heritage Management course at the Royal Agricultural University have been actively involved in restoring sections of coppice woodland on a local estate.

Their work has recently paid dividends with the observation of a Pearl Bordered Fritillary, a butterfly not seen on this site for decades. This observation was particularly exciting as it was a female, spotted laying eggs in and around violets, an essential food plant found in the newly created open woodland habitat.

Once common, the Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterfly is now one of our most threatened species. Its drastic decline in numbers is mainly due to the cessation of coppice management in woodlands. The close affinity this species has with the practice of coppicing led to it being associated with those making a living from this ancient practice, hence the nickname of the Woodman’s friend.

FdSc Environmental Conservation and Heritage Management course manager, Dr Ian Grange commented: “This is a fantastic result. As well as students learning about the theory of habitat management, they are actually getting out there and creating habitat opportunities for wildlife.

“This hands-on experience gained by students is also highly recognised by employers in the environmental sector who are seeking students with both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills.”

The RAU is soon to enhance learning in this sector with the introduction of the new FdSc in British Wildlife Conservation, starting in October 2014.

For further information please contact Ian Grange at ian.grange@rau.ac.uk.