In 2017, Fernworthy was entered into a Higher Level Stewardship scheme to help manage the Rhos pasture for the endangered Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. Now, two years have passed and lots of work has been carried out.

The capital spend has been completed, which has seen the construction of some new fencing and gates. This has allowed us to compartmentalise the area in order to graze the mire and the meadows effectively. These meadows are grazed from May until September with Dartmoor ponies from neighbouring farms. The ponies help to manage the Culm grassland and promote the growth of the Devil’s-bit Scabious, which is the main food source of the Marsh Fritillary butterfly.

Along with the ponies, we also carry out bracken control in the summer and scrub control in the winter. This is helping to reclaim more of the meadows and restore the grassland; some areas are cut and collected in the autumn, which stops the nutrient cycle and helps promote the growth of wildflowers such as Bee Orchids. In addition, we have also replanted areas with Devil’s-bit Scabious, in partnership with the Butterfly Conservation Trust.  So, keep an eye out at Fernworthy, as you may well see a Marsh Fritillary Butterfly skimming along the meadows in the summer months.

Kit Hancock
Senior Countryside Warden for Devon