Marsh Award for Promotion of Lepidoptera Conservation

This Award is run in partnership with Butterfly Conservation and recognises people or organisations who have made outstanding and unprecedented contributions to Lepidoptera. This could be through direct action, policy initiatives, education, press and media releases, involvement in the arts.

Nominations are submitted via Butterfly Conservation’s local branches and are judged by a panel of experts from the field.


Lancaster Environment Centre (Lancaster University) - Andrew Wilby and Rosa Menendez 2019

Rosa Menendez and Andrew Wilby at the Lancaster Environment Centre (Lancaster University)(LEC) have made a substantive and ongoing contribution to our knowledge of butterflies and moths and to the education and inspiration of a whole new generation of lepidopterists. They have made both a regional and national impact and their work has inspired others to push back the frontiers of knowledge on a range rare and threatened species.

At an annual event, Rosa and Andy invite approximately 50 people who are active in land management (landowners, managers and conservation volunteers), to a half day ‘report back’ where 6-8 students give summary reports on their latest research and its implications for land management.

In March 2017 the first full day joint LEC/BC conference took place, organised by small team of Lancashire and Cumbria Branch committee members along with Rosa and Andy. There were 100 delegates, and the second conference in March 2019 had 170 delegates. The conference brings together BC members from all over Northern England together with landowners and managers (many from conservation partners in the RSPB, National Trusts, Wildlife Trusts and Forestry Commission England). The goodwill this has already generated is uplifting and it provides valuable educational and net-working opportunities of real practical benefit.

The ‘spin-off’ benefits to BC and butterfly habitat management are also considerable. For example, this year alone a student’s research into the status of Scotch Argus at Smardale Gill has led to ground-breaking work on the use of DNA testing and the value of a large–scale capture, mark, release and re-capture programme.

Rosa Menendez and Andrew Wilby are inspiring a whole new generation of talented and enthusiastic lepidopterists. They have a tremendous working relationship with BC’s Conservation Officer Martin Wain and with local BC volunteers, and they remain committed to this special partnership. Their work in the North West of England has been vital, however their work benefits many UK wide rare and threatened species.

Previous Winners

Willow Wren Training

Willow Wren Training is a boat-handling training business with no background in Lepidoptera conservation and a staff who originally had only a rudimentary knowledge of wildlife. They have now become the template on how to turn an Urban area of derelict land into a working site, where wildlife and butterflies are fully integrated into the land management. This is a prime example of not only how human being can coexist with nature but also for how nature can prosper.

The Nelson’s Wharf restoration is truly remarkable and successful, not only home to widespread butterfly species, but also rare biodiversity priority species. It was an old cement processing site with demolished buildings and little or no native wildlife value. The Wharf is now rapidly becoming a top butterfly site and throughout development the owner has sought advice on how to best protect the wildlife. A large native wildlife meadow has been created and is full of butterflies such as Common Blue and Marbled White. Butterfly friendly hedgerows have been restored and improved so that butterflies can breed. Other butterflies that have been seen include the Small Blue, the Green Hairstreak, Dingy Skipper and the Grizzled Skipper.

Willow Wren Training has erected information signs and entered into an informal partnership with Butterfly Conservation to ensure the site is managed to optimise butterfly populations. The butterfly transect successes are not only promoted on-site but are promoted to the wider public through social media.


Lindengate are a charity that works, through gardening, with clients from the mental health sector. Initially, the organisation concentrated on growing flowers, fruit and vegetables with clients before selling them on. They then got involved with the Upper Thames branch of Butterfly Conservation, along with other wildlife charities, and now grow hundreds of plants each year for nature reserve sites free of charge. They also go the extra mile by sending out their clients to join conservation volunteers at planting events when the opportunity arises.

To date, Lindengate have grown and are still growing, cowslips for the Chiltern Duke Project, Dark Mullein for the Striped Lynchis, Horseshoe Vetch for Chalk Hill Blue, DED resistant Elm from cuttings and Devils-bit scabious for a Marsh Fritillary reintroduction in Hampshire and for a similar fledgling project in Oxfordshire.

The charity organises and runs twice yearly open days which allow them to share their conservation message, and that of the wildlife organisations that they work with, to be explained to large numbers of visitors.

Pete Eeles

Pete Eeles has worked with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch of Butterfly Conservation for over a decade, driving the growth of the branch during his time as its Chairman. He helped to develop their website which is used by numerous butterfly enthusiasts, both within and external to Butterfly Conservation and has become the main means of communication and promotion of Lepidoptera conservation for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch.

Pete has helped to develop Butterfly Conservation’s educational resources, including the new ‘Garden Butterfly Survey’ website which allows users to upload data from their own gardens. He is also a key figure in the development of the ‘UK Butterflies’ website which is packed full of information and photos, and is often seen as a compliment website to that of Butterfly Conservation.

The Heart of England Forest

The aim of Heart of England Forest has been to recreate the Forest of Arden by creating, managing and reverting to native broad leaf 30,000 acres of woodland. By 2015 they had converted and improved 5 major woods (comprising some 2,000 acres of largely conifer plantations) to broadleaf in very quick time. Prior to this, the area was very poor for lepidoptera, but now many areas are reporting an increase in the number and variety of species being recorded. So far the woods have been reconnected with over 3,000 acres of native broad-leafed plantation. Unusually large 30-50 metre rides have been created to form permanent areas for grassland species with allowances made for tree growth. The Brown Hairstreak colony at Grafton Wood in Worcestershire is only 1 kilometre away and it is hoped that the species will spread throughout the 30,000 acres of The Heart of England Forest. This area has the potential to become the most diverse and important area in Warwickshire for Lepidoptera.

Brighton and Hove City Council

Inspired by the success of Brighton & Hove’s first Butterfly Haven, designed by the Dorothy Stringer School, Brighton & Hove City Council secured £91,000 of funding for participation in the “South Downs Way Ahead” project; a plan to protect, restore and reconnect endangered chalk downland in the National Park.

This restoration included the development of 15 new Butterfly Havens. This work has created a green network of biodiversity hubs and corridors and has benefited many butterfly species, including the Dingy & Grizzled Skippers, Small and Chalkhill Blues and the Adonis Blue. In 2014, Brighton & Lewes Downs was awarded UNESCO Biosphere status for their exceptional work.

Warwickshire County Council

David Lowe, the Principle Ecologist at Warwickshire County Council, and his team have been instrumental in delivering projects for the conservation of local butterfly species.

One project that they have run is the Princethorpe Woodland Project, where the focus was the Silver-washed Fritillary. At the start of the project this butterfly only had 6 colony sites in Warwickshire; however 31 woodland sites have now been recorded and breeding has been confirmed in 26 of these.

David and his team have been particularly proactive in supporting funding bids, sign posting woodland owners to funding sources and facilitating site management meetings with land owners. They have also played a large role in getting the County Councils Country Parks involved with their work. For all these efforts, they have been recognised with this Award.

Patrick Barkham

Patrick Barkham is a feature writer for the Guardian, where he regularly writes stories about the environment and especially in depth articles on butterflies. Patrick drew on the early experience that he had with his ecologist father John Barkham, when writing his inspirational book ‘The Butterfly Isles – A Summer in Search of Our Emperors and Admirals.’ He spent the summer of 2009 travelling the country to see every British butterfly species, and in his book captures his personal enthusiasm for butterflies. Patrick has since has since been touring the country again giving talks on butterflies and the need for their conservation.

This summer, Patrick joined the Big Sussex Butterfly Hunt organised by Dan Danahar of BC Sussex Branch to promote the Big Butterfly Count. He impressed everyone on his team by writing an extremely humorous article for the Guardian website on his Blackberry whilst bouncing around in the back of a Land Rover as he travelled around the county.

West Dean Estate, Sussex

West Dean Estate has had an outstanding level of support and co-operation in assisting with conservation of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly on their land.

The Estate has kindly agreed to every one of the numerous requests made over a six year period, through our project partners the South Downs Joint Committee (now South Downs National Park Authority). This has enabled the removal of invasive conifers, opening-up of derelict coppice, fencing and cattle grazing.

A dwindling population of this nationally endangered species has consequently increased to the point where maximum daily counts have exceeded 100 for the last two seasons, and they have started to colonise adjacent areas of suitable habitat. As one of the five largest colonies remaining in the UK, its location between strong populations to the West and smaller, fragmented colonies to the East, make it vitally important from a strategic point of view.

The West Dean Estate is undoubtedly making a very valuable contribution towards Butterfly Conservation’s efforts to reverse the serious decline and potential extinction of the Duke of Burgundy. The Duke of Burgundy colony on the West Dean Estate is one of the key population centres on which the success of the ‘Dukes on the Edge’ project will heavily rely.


CEMEX have been very active in conservation and in the retention of biodiversity on all of their land holdings nationally. Conservation measures have been taken at both active quarry sites and land that is in the process of restoration.

In Warwickshire CEMEX have several very important sites for Lepidoptera. Two of their sites still contain Chalk Carpet which is a Nationally Scarce species of moth. These are the only sites in the West Midland region for this species. It has the most important of the three sites for the Small Blue butterfly in Warwickshire and also has five colonies of the Grizzled Skipper and two of the Dingy Skipper on its land (all of which are BAP species).

In 2007 a Small Blue recovery project commenced which was funded by the CEMEX community fund. As a result of this project, large areas of scrub were removed form a former Small Blue site at Stockton Cutting/Works which saw an instant success with the Grizzled Skipper colonising the cleared area. Following on from this success, CEMEX became a major partner in the SITA funded ‘Bringing Back the Small Blue’ landscape project. This project will restore or improve habitat for the Small Blue and other species across a minimum of 18 sites in the Southam area of Warwickshire.

Mike McCarthy

Mike has always had a passion for butterflies and in 2009 persuaded his editor to run a regular series on butterflies through the summer, under a project known as the Great British Butterfly Hunt. This project entails Mike travelling the country to see every British species, and writing up his findings in regular features in the paper. But this is not purely a cosmetic exercise to show pretty pictures, because Mike is using the articles to highlight the decline of butterflies and show how each species is being affected by human activities such as farming, forestry and man-induced climate change.

Mike is a passionate and knowledgeable conservationist, who uses his position to promote conservation issues for Lepidoptera and other wildlife. He recently wrote a wonderful book entitled “Say goodbye to the Cuckoo” highlighting the plight of woodland birds. He is now doing the same for butterflies.

St Modwen Properties

St Modwen, an expert in the regeneration of brownfield sites used for development, sets a positive example of how to resolve such conflicts. It works with local experts from Butterfly Conservation in the Midlands identifying important butterfly colonies on sites earmarked for development. It then ensures their habitat is preserved. In several cases, the company has gone even further and created additional new habitat nearby.

Clive Farrell

Clive Farrell is very well known throughout the world of lepidoptera and during his career has been instrumental in the setting up of the butterfly house at Syon Park and creating the Fallen Stones Butterfly Ranch in Belize. His current, and most ambitious, project is the construction of Butterfly World on a 30-acre site by the M25. This enormous visitor attraction will include butterfly gardens and a butterfly dome dedicated to the promotion of butterflies to the general public.

Network Rail

Network Rail has demonstrated a huge commitment to conserving butterflies, in particular the Large Blue at two sites on railway sidings at Green Down Reserve in the Polden Hills, located above the main Penzance-Paddington railway line.



Defence Estates

Defence Estates are the land and property agency of the Ministry of Defence, and have responsibility for managing some vast landscape areas across Britian. In total they are responsible for 240,000 hectares of which 80,000 are so important for wildlife that they have been designated SSSIs. Their estate include crucial habitats for lepidoptera such as the chalk grasslands of Salisbury Plain and Porton Down, the extensive heaths in north-east Hampshire, Surrey and the Norfolk Brecks; as well as internationally important upland moorland areas such as Otterburn in Northumberland and the grasslands of Castlemartin in Wales.

The EU Life Project at Salisbury Plain is an excellent example of Defence Estates working in partnership with a range of organisations including Butterfly Conservation to undertake landscape-scale conservation management for the benefit of butterflies and other wildlife. In this project alone they have cleared over 400 hectares of scrub and conifer plantation, and restored grazing to 3,600 hectares of marvelous grassland, to the enormous benefit of many threatened butterflies and moths.

The Kingcombe Centre

The Kingcombe Centre in Dorset was created in 1988 and since then many thousands of people have visited and attended the educational courses, field-trips etc. The Centre’s contribution to the understanding and appreciation of wildlife by people of all ages and hence to the conservation of lepidoptera is vast and incalculable.

School parties, adult groups, professional organisations enjoy the special ambience of Kingcombe. The educational component is recognised as vital for the future of conservation organisations such as Butterfly Conservation. Many specific butterfly and moth courses are held as well as a range of practical conservation courses and other wildlife and ecology courses. Moth identification is year round with the moth trap run every night and the night’s haul shared the next morning with course participants and visitors.

Bentley Wood Trustees

The wood lies along the Hampshire/Wiltshire border and extends over more than 1700 acres. It was purchased by a charitable trust and is run by four Trustees whose combined knowledge of conservation is used to develop the woodland as a nature reserve. It is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for the range of moths and butterflies it supports – 35 butterflies are regularly recorded, making it one of the most important woodland butterfly sites in Britain.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has worked with the Butterfly Conservation on many levels: with numerous volunteer Branches, with staff, whilst at the same time putting much effort into the conservation butterflies and moths in their own reserves. They have tried to change agricultural policies for the benefit of wildlife, people and lepidoptera.

Forest Enterprise

Forest Enterprise work closely with many of Butterfly Conservation’s volunteer Branches. In North Herefordshire and South Shropshire the management of woodland rides has seen the Wood White increase dramatically both in number and range. Forest Enterprise’s attitude to management over the past 10 years has seen dramatic improvements in Haugh Wood for Pearl-bordered Fritillaries and Wood Whites. Haugh Wood illustrates the sea of change that Forest Enterprise have started.

Richard Lewington

Richard Lewington is a biological illustrator, an artist with a passion for butterflies. The quality of his pictures convey the behavioural aspects of lepidoptera as well as identification points. The pictures are used as identification points as well as captivating and inspiring many to have a greater interest in butterflies and moths.

The National Trust

The National Trust’s conservation work on Lepidoptera goes back 100 years. I t was in 1899 that Wicken Fen was purchased for the Trust by Charles Rothschild, who wanted it to be managed as a nature reserve with the conservation of the Swallowtail butterfly and Reed Leopard moth firmly in mind. The trust now manages over 200,000 ha of countryside.

About 30% of this is scheduled Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Very significant percentages of the total UK populations of several scarce butterfly species occur on National Trust land: for example about half the UK colonies of Adonis Blue are on National Trust land; as is most of the English population of Mountain Ringlet; half of all the UK colonies of the Glanville Fritillary is found on their holdings,