Marks & Spencer launch campaign to save the butterfly


The last three years have seen butterflies in the UK experience the most dramatic decline in numbers since records began, with almost half of Britain's species now under threat. To help bring an end to this, Marks & Spencer has today announced a partnership with the charity Butterfly Conservation — 'Making Butterflies Count' — to take action and conserve these vital species.

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Pearl-bordered Fritillary: 61% decline in range over the last 25 years. (Photo: Fiona Barclay)

Butterflies are one of the most threatened of all wildlife groups in the UK:

  • Seven out of every 10 UK butterflies are declining and half are threatened with extinction
  • Five species of butterfly are extinct, and the situation for moths is worse with over 60 species already extinct

Working together, Butterfly Conservation and M&S are launching a campaign targeting both the retailer's customers and farmers to help raise awareness about the importance of butterflies and moths and to encourage them to take part in the 'Big Butterfly Count' — the UK's largest ever butterfly count. This valuable partnership is part of the retailer's eco-plan, Plan A commitment to be the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.

Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, said: "Butterflies are wonderful, extraordinary creatures. Numbers have been falling, but Butterfly Conservation scientists have demonstrated that these declines can be reversed. They have also found that when you change the environment to help butterflies thrive, all sorts of other wildlife benefits too. Nature comes back to life. I'm delighted Marks & Spencer is working with Butterfly Conservation to help reverse these declines. I wish them every success with implementing their ambitious Plan A commitments."

The partnership will see M&S launch a scheme for all M&S farmers to be given advice on how to encourage butterflies on their farms, a campaign to hold the UK's largest ever Butterfly Count in July with a target of 100,000 participants, and a range of butterfly products with a donation of the profits made to Butterfly Conservation.

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Butterflies and moths are very sensitive to environmental change, which makes them a very good indicator of the health of the countryside. They are essential for the pollination of plants, and caterpillars provide food for many birds and other wildlife. If the UK lost all of its butterflies and moths, farmers would see a big drop in numbers of other wildlife, including birds, and impacts on crop yields.

Wood White: 65% decline over last 25 years (Photo: Jim Asher)

Richard Gillies, M&S Director of Plan A, commented: "We want to lead the way in making a positive contribution to the environment and society across everything we do and everything we sell. Our partnership with Butterfly Conservation is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness with both our farmers and our customers about the importance of butterflies. We hope that our campaign will be a major way of helping to reverse the long-term decline of butterflies and moths, as well as enhancing the habitats for wildlife and improving the environment for us all."

As part of the Butterfly Conservation partnership, M&S wants to engage all of its farmers in the UK to help protect the butterfly. Over the next 12 months Butterfly Conservation will visit key M&S farmers, and all M&S farmers will be given advice on how to encourage and maintain more butterflies on their farms.

The retailer is launching a range of butterfly-related products including plants that attract butterflies, butterfly-adorned products such as T-shirts and jewellery, to help raise awareness about the importance of butterflies, whilst M&S will also be making a donation from the sale of the products to Butterfly Conservation.

Richard Gillies continued: "We want to make it as easy as possible for all our customers and farmers to get involved — with the launch of the Big Butterfly Count, our fantastic range of products, and also the support our farmers will be getting from Butterfly Conservation, there should be something for everyone."

At the end of July (24th July–1st August) M&S and Butterfly Conservation will launch the Big Butterfly Count, which they are hoping will be the biggest ever count of these emblematic creatures. A new website has been built so that consumers can enter records online, and this will be supported by the M&S website so that consumers across the UK can take part. The retailer will also be encouraging all its customers and staff to take part by rewarding them with Spend and Save vouchers and offering M&S customers a discounted membership to Butterfly Conservation. M&S will also be providing additional funds for Butterfly Conservation to recruit an extra team member to support the campaign, as well as expert assistance on how to set up the Butterfly Count.

For further information on M&S' Plan A, go to: www.marksandspencer.com/PlanA

Written by: Butterfly Conservation