Big Butterfly Count sees a drop in participants compared to 2020 and 2021, as conservationists urge the public not to forget the benefits of being connected to nature – and it’s not too late to take part!
Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation are urging people not to become disconnected from nature, after the start of their Big Butterfly Count saw a significant drop in people taking part, in comparison with the last two years.
Dr Zoe Randle, Senior Surveys Officer at Butterfly Conservation, said: “In 2020 and 2021 we saw a big increase in the number of people taking part in the Big Butterfly Count. During the COVID restrictions people were spending more time at home, and maybe without the day-to-day busyness and distractions, they noticed nature more and were able to enjoy spending more time outside.
“However, since Big Butterfly Count started on the 15th July, we’ve only had half of the Counts compared with the same time last year. It’s left us wondering whether, now there are no COVID restrictions, are people beginning to forget about nature and the wildlife that needs our help to survive?”
It’s something Butterfly Conservation’s Vice President, the TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham, is also worried about. Chris said: “During lockdown many people used the opportunity of having a little bit more time to engage with nature, and many of them found some respite and solace there. Now we are asking people to re-connect and give something back to nature by taking part in the Big Butterfly Count.”
A lack of butterflies could also be putting people off taking part this year. Chris adds: “Last year was our poorest year ever in terms of the amount of butterflies people were seeing. It’s too early to tell if this year will follow suit, but certainly anecdotally we are hearing that people feel there are fewer butterflies around. That might have put people off taking part in the Big Butterfly Count, but it’s equally important for people to tell us that because when it comes to submitting data we need to know where there aren’t these insects as well as where there are.
“Butterflies and moths are important indicators of the wider health of our environment. If they are struggling then so is the rest of the natural world. It is so important people continue to take part in the Big Butterfly Count. If we don’t know what is happening then we can’t deliver good quality conservation.”
Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count is a UK-wide survey open to everyone, of any age, living in towns, cities or the countryside. Taking part requires you to spend just 15 minutes in an outdoor space counting the amount and type of butterflies, and some day-flying moths, you see. It is easy to do and the more people who do it, the greater the benefits to our understanding of nature and how to help it.
There were over 150,000 counts submitted to the Big Butterfly Count last year, more than ever before.
This year’s Big Butterfly Count runs from the 15th July to the 7th August. For more information and to take part simply visit www.bigbutterflycount.org or download the free Big Butterfly Count app.