Please help us restore Rowland Wood

by Butterfly Conservation in East Sussex, United Kingdom

Please help us restore Rowland Wood
We did it
On 8th September 2023 we successfully raised £19,494 ( + est. £3929.50 Gift Aid ) with 712 supporters in 14 days

Rowland Wood is one of the last refuges remaining in Southern England for the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Pearl-bordered Fritillary

by Butterfly Conservation in East Sussex, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Every additional penny raised will enable us to do more to raise awareness of butterflies and moths and protect them for future generations.  Any additional income raised from this campaign will go towards our wider conservation work to ensure a brighter future for butterflies, moths and all wildlife

Help us to save one of South East England’s key habitats for the Small Pearl-bordered, and the Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Please help us restore Rowland Wood.

Rowland Wood is one of the last refuges remaining in Southern England where you can see the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and the Pearl-bordered Fritillary in their natural habitat.A map of a butterfly reserve  Description automatically generated Changes in forestry practices and habitat loss have caused huge declines in their populations, with the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary declining 66% and Pearl-bordered Fritillary 64% since the 1970s in the UK*.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Rowland Wood has been a Butterfly Conservation owned reserve since 2010. But due to decades of habitat loss, numbers of both butterflies became so critically low that urgent reintroductions were necessary in the late 2010s. Colonies are currently stable yet precarious, and we desperately need your help now to keep momentum going and secure their future.

We are facing a £12,000 shortfall in funding to carry on with this vital restoration work. Please consider a donation today to help us continue regenerating Rowland Wood and increase the amount of habitat available for both vulnerable butterflies. This way we will create a sustainable future for them in the South East.

Why have these two fritillaries faced such a decline?

Ancient woodland now only covers 2.5%** of the UK. This valuable habitat containing open space within a woodland consisting of native trees is key to the survival of the caterpillars of the Small Pearl-bordered and Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Rowland Wood forms part of the once sprawling 330 hectare ancient Vert Wood. A wood that was famous in the butterfly and moth world due to the abundance of species found there. But since its heyday Vert Wood has been sold off in plots, and non-native conifers have been planted where once  broadleaf trees stood tall. The habitats it was once renowned for have vanished, taking the species it supported with it. This must be reversed.


Landowners are increasingly turning to modern methods of forest management. The traditional woodland management technique of coppicing is no longer common, which is having huge consequences for species such as the Pearl-bordered and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. In times gone by the Pearl-bordered Fritillary was affectionately known as the woodman’s friend. The butterfly would follow the woodman, as they moved around coppicing. Coppicing would create open areas in which violets, particularly the Common Dog-violet (the caterpillar’s foodplant), would flourish, until the canopy began to close again. Without this regular cycle of coppicing to open up the canopy and allow light to reach the forest floor, the Common Dog-Violet cannot grow, leaving the caterpillars of these two fritillary species with no food source.

For Rowland Wood however the future could look brighter with your help. Since its acquisition Butterfly Conservation and dedicated volunteers have worked to regenerate this disappearing habitat, but this is under threat without urgent funding.

Please donate today 

Why do we need your help? 

Butterfly Conservation needs your help to be able to continue maintaining Rowland wood, creating open spaces and allowing natural woodland regeneration to occur. Removing non-native species and restocking with native trees will help the forest to slowly return to its natural rhythm. 

Using traditional woodland management techniques, we have reopened sections of the canopy and created open spaces that allow for violets, the foodplant of Small Pearl-bordered and Pearl-bordered Fritillary to thrive. However, this work is ongoing and must not end here

Another unforeseen challenge for these butterflies was the onset of the Covid pandemic. Monitoring and conservation work was halted, and there was a gap in our ability to continue the habitat management the butterflies require. Following this, the populations were then hit by serious drought in the summer of 2022, with consequences that we are only beginning to understand this year. With a changing climate, spring weather patterns can be more unpredictable, making conditions more challenging for the butterflies. To give them a fighting chance we must provide a habitat they can thrive in to help them survive these changes. 


Please consider making a donation today to help save butterflies and moths.

What other species will benefit from the regeneration of Rowland wood?

Through the spring and summer, Rowland wood is awash with butterflies and moths, and this is all thanks to ongoing management. Some of the butterflies and moths that call it home are listed below:

Grizzled Skipper 


White Admiral


Broad Bordered Bee Hawk-moth


Green Hairstreak



 Much of this biodiversity is thanks to coppicing. By opening up the woodland canopy, sunlight is able to reach the forest floor through the previously dense leafy cover. Allowing an explosion of growth from once dormant plants. These plants are hugely important for not just butterflies. Many insects, birds, bats and small mammals rely on this mimicked natural process. With an active coppice rotation, Rowland Wood could once again thrive, creating a vast range of habitats and a refuge for many declining species. 

Thank you for helping us to restore and preserve this landscape, with your donation we can create a bright future for the fritillaries of Rowlands Wood, expand our conservation action and save butterflies and moths across the UK. 



* The State of the UKs Butterflies report – Butterfly Conservation 

**The Woodland Trust


Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Peter Eales
Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Gareth Knass
Grizzled Skipper - Gilles San Martin
White Admiral - Neil Hulme
Broad Bordered Bee Hawk-moth - Tom Brereton
Green Hairstreak -Neil Hulme

Got an idea like this?

Over £200 million has been raised from our crowd to support the projects they love! Plus tens of millions more unlocked by our partners.