Chris Packham hits out at climate change for really worrying butterfly numbers
Springwatch: Chris Packham apologises for 'mistake'
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Chris Packham joined Alex Jones and Ronan Keating on The One Show today to discuss Butterfly Conservation’s new initiative The Big Butterfly Count. The Springwatch presenter shared his concerns over the number of butterflies he’s observed in the UK and detailed climate change as one of the reasons for this “really worrying” finding.
He began: “Over the last 18 months people who wouldn’t have previously had the time have turned to nature, they’ve recognised that it can give them a place to be calm, a place to get away from some of the terrible troubles that we’ve been facing and now’s the time to give back.
“It’s The Big Butterfly Count 2021 that starts tomorrow organised by Butterfly Conservation.
“We like looking at butterflies they’re very beautiful, they’re relatively easy to identify, we’ve got a limited number of species in the UK about 55, and there are 17,000 in the world so that’s not many.”
“A lot of people like them, but they’re also great indicators as to our natural community health.”
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“And what we’ve seen this year in particular, is that our weather, not necessarily the climate but the weather this year,” he continued.
“We had a very cold April, frosty that didn’t suit some species, things like our speckled wood butterfly and our small tortoiseshells and red admirals too.
“And then we had a very wet May and that didn’t suit other species.”
“So, last year’s Big Butterfly Count, we had nearly 150,000 [entries], lots of data come in but we saw the fewest number of butterflies ever,” Chris explained.
“This is really worrying – a composite of factors here, industrial agriculture has played a role, infrastructure projects obviously impact locally, climate change is giving us a real worry.”
The Springwatch and Autumnwatch presenter urged viewers to get involved with The Big Butterfly Count by downloading a sheet that identities different species of butterflies.
“Sending in that data will give us an idea as to what the populations are doing,” he noted.
“My observations this year as one individual purely subjective, not quantitative are that I’ve seen fewer butterflies than ever this year,” Chris warned.
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“And that’s you who’s been out in nature loads,” Alex pointed out.
“I was out this morning sniffing around for those butterflies so the signs bad,” he replied.
“The good news is that butterflies are quite resilient if they have one bad year because they lay so many eggs, and they can fly to new areas and colonise, they are more resilient than some species.
“But maybe we’ve finally pushed their resilience too far and that’s what we need to find out.
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“Armed with that information Butterfly Conservation can do better conservation.”
Ronan asked: “Are you talking about people going into the gardens or do they need to go to local parks?”
“Anywhere you like,” Chris replied. “It can be your garden if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, local park, school grounds, even the car park where you park your car if you’re at work.
“And the one really important thing to say is that if you don’t see lots of butterflies don’t be disappointed and not send us your data, negative data is just as important as positive data.”
The One Show airs on BBC One on weekdays at 7pm. Join in with The Big Butterfly Count 2021 here.
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