Volunteers work to protect butterflies in Norwich

Pottering among wild flowers, an increased population of colourful butterflies could return to a small corner on the edge of Mousehold Heath in Norwich.

As one of the first spring-like days of the year arrived, volunteers worked hard to coppice trees, cutting stems low to the ground.

It is hoped the work will help wild flowers grow in the area, producing nectar for dwindling butterfly populations.

Debbie Murray, senior project manager at the charity BTCV, formally known as the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, organised the volunteering day on St James Hill in Norwich, behind the Ketts Tavern. 'If you keep the trees down then you get all the wild flowers that are good for butterflies,' she said.

Research suggests that many butterflies are moving north as a result of climate change. Although there are more than 58 species of butterfly in the UK, three-quarters of British species are in decline. 'Anything you can do to help butterflies is a really good thing,' she added.

She said that clearing the trees also created a great view over Norwich from the hill.

St James Hill is home to a number of rare insects and the work of the volunteers will help to increase their numbers.

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Miss Murray said they had seen the Brimstone butterfly during the course of their work.

'It is really good for the butterflies so in a month or two we will hopefully see a lot more butterflies here. We are a conservation charity that inspires people and improves places. We encourage people to get out and look after their green space. We take them out and tell them about the conservation value of the work and how to use the tools. The volunteers stay fit as well.'

She said that they always welcome volunteers to help on projects which are carried out in public areas. The BTCV minibus takes volunteers from their base on Horns Lane to sites around Norwich every Tuesday and Thursday. 'By the end of the day they come back with a sense of achievement and the reward of contributing to the environment,' said Miss Murray.

If you would like to volunteer and would like to know more about encouraging wildlife, either turn up to one of the sessions or give Miss Murray a call on 01603 767300, or email d.murray@btcv.org.uk.

Are you doing something to help protect the environment? Call Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426 or email annabelle.dickson@archant.co.uk.