We’d like to give you a brief introduction to the conservation projects that Lifeforms have been involved with in the past and those we’re working on at the moment.
We’ve been directly involved in the conservation of threatened species for over 20 years. We’ve worked with species such as; distinguished jumping spiders, fairy shrimps, great crested newts, hazel pot beetles, pond mud snails, tadpole shrimps, tansy beetles and others. Every project we’re involved with is different. Our main focus is to find out how each species behave and what it is they need to survive. We work with highly threatened native species. When we’ve researched how these species behave, we inform the people who manage sites where they might be found. We work with the land owners to make sure the existing populations are kept safe and establish new populations.
Our work is always carried out in liaison with,or at the request of, government departments such as Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. We work with or under contract to conservation charities such as Butterfly Conservation and Freshwater Habitats Trust. Much of the work is confidential to avoid attracting illegal collectors and other destructive people.
Our busiest projects at the moment
Barberry carpet moth
We’re raising hundreds of barberry bushes, these are the moth’s only food-plant. The plants are used for the enhancement of existing sites where the moths are found and also to establish new sites. We work in close co-operation with Butterfly Conservation on this project. This is our largest and longest running project.
Restricted to just one lake in the whole of Britain, this aquatic snail is Europe’s rarest freshwater mollusc. We’re working with Natural Resources Wales, the Snowdonia National Park Authority and Freshwater Habitats Trust on this project. Our aim is to study the species in the wild (under licence). We use specially constructed underwater refuges to prevent harm to the snails or their habitat. Also, we manage a captive population to study their behaviour and to act as an Ark, in case they become extinct in the wild. We have more snails in our specially designated ponds and tanks than have ever been recorded in the wild and know much more about their behaviour now.
This beautiful spider was once restricted to a single heathland site in the United Kingdom. Working with Natural England, the Forestry Commission, Buglife and many others, we’ve led the programme of re-establishment for this species as part of Natural England’s Species Recovery programme. We have been successful in establishing 10 new populations (in the last 15 years) and continue to work with landowners and conservationists to secure the survival of this species in the UK and Europe. To create a new population we have to collect spiders from their underground burrows (under licence) and place them in small transportable spider gardens (or specially made refuges!) They are given time to establish new burrows and webs. The spider, in its burrow, complete with web is then ‘planted’ at the new specially prepared site. The Ladybird Spider was featured (along with Ian!) on last years Autumn Watch. You can watch the clip here
Scarlet malachite beetle
This species is one of Britain’s rarest beetles, it’s now restricted to only five known sites. In the last five years we have managed to fathom out its life-cycle using specially made thatched refuges. This stunning beetle requires thatched rooves or something very similar, near to rich hay meadows. We continue to build more beetle cottages (which is what we’ve called the refuges) and monitor management techniques. We study the beetle’s ecological needs in close liaison with site owners and appropriate conservation officers.
Conservation in action
Most of the work has been under contract or assisted by grants, but we often find ourselves with an ongoing project that has no funding. That’s one of the reason for Lifeforms Art – to feed us and to keep the projects we’re so lucky to work on, going. It’s so important to help conservation work for threatened species and their habitats either by direct funding, volunteering, raising awareness or manging your own garden.
We’ll keep you up to date with the progress of ongoing projects.