Butterflies as agents of change within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

How school children and their inspiring teacher created an extraordinary reserve for butterflies in the heart of their campus – and have gone on to use butterflies as flagships for conservation from Sussex to Ghana.

Want to hear more from Dan Danahar? He joined us for a Q&A where we answered your questions about how we can save species.

The Dorothy Stringer School

In 2007, the Dorothy Stringer School created Brighton’s first Butterfly Haven. Led by environmental science teacher Dr Dan Danahar, student volunteers landscaped a chalk slope, sowing a wildflower seed mix and planting 5,500 locally sourced wildflower plugs. Since then, they have recorded 27 different butterflies species at this site. The Brighton and Hove City Council was inspired by the school’s success and partnered with the South Downs National Park to launch the “South Downs Way Ahead” project. Now a city-wide butterfly conservation effort, hundreds of volunteers worked with council rangers to plant 200,000 wildflower plugs creating habitat for the Dingy & Grizzled Skippers, Small and Chalkhill Blues and Adonis Blue butterflies. In 2014, the UNESCO recognised the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere as a World Biosphere area, the first completely new Biosphere site in the UK established for almost forty years.

Photo: Adonis Blue Polyommatus bellargus, photographed on the Liz Williams Butterfly Haven. Photo credit: Dan Danahar

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