Scouts save strawberry-loving Skipper

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Explorer Scouts in Wales have helped Forestry Commission officials cut down and remove a number of invasive silver birch trees that were threatening the habitat of a rare butterfly.

The trees in question were encroaching on an open area of wild strawberry plants whose leaves are the preferred habitat of the Grizzled Skipper butterfly, a tiny, fast-flying, speckled insect that is becoming increasingly rare.

The butterfly loves to lay its eggs on the plants, and the strawberry leaves later become food for Skipper larvae.

Saw skills

The Explorer Scouts, who were working towards their Community Activity Badge, utilised their Scouting skills training with bow saws and pruning saws to tackle the trees in Slade woodland, near Magor and Rogiet in Monmouthshire.

The wood is one of the most important sites for butterflies and moths in south-east Wales, and is home to some of Europe's most endangered species. However, lately the silver birch trees had been taking over the valuable open space, leading Forestry Commission Wales to enlist the help of the Magor Explorer Scouts.

‘Marvellous job’

Forestry Commission Wales Community ranger Emma Louise Felkin, who led the work, said, 'The Scouts did a marvellous job in helping to maintain and increase this open-spaced habitat which, hopefully, will encourage population growth of these rare butterflies.'

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