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Culture, Environment, Leisure

Rare species of moth found in Brockwell Park by volunteers

A rare species of moth that until recently had hardly ever been seen in London has been spotted by volunteer conservationists in Brockwell Park in Lambeth.

The group discovered the rare Jersey Tiger moth – until recently only found in the Channel Islands and the far south of England – while taking part in a night time exercises to monitor and record local moth and bat populations in Brockwell and Ruskin Parks.

Experts believe that brightly coloured Tiger Moths are gradually moving northwards as the summers become more reliably warm, and they are becoming more common in London.

Over 40 local people volunteered to stay in Brockwell Park on two consecutive nights with local experts and the Brockwell Park Community Partners to record the number of bats and moths found there. This followed on from a similar number of people in Ruskin Park the week before during a bat activity day organised by the Friends of Ruskin Park and Carnegie Library. Both events were supported by Lambeth Council and Veolia Environmental Services, who work in partnership with the council to manage and maintain over 60 parks, commons and public greenspaces.

In Brockwell Park at least 14 bats were spotted during the course of the first night, and included common pipistrelle in healthy numbers, as well as soprano pipistrelles and even more excitingly Daubenton’s bat, which prefers hunting for insects over water. Most bat activity centred on the park’s middle pond which has good habitat structure for these flying mammals being sheltered on either side by trees. Bats are a superb indicator of the ‘ecological quality’ of an open space, with each species tending to specialise – a range of species indicates a healthy balance of places to feed and travel, and the success of the park’s meadow areas and ponds with ‘wild’ edges.

This success is also demonstrated by the variety and quantity of moths found next night in Brockwell Park, with 24 different species recorded, including the Flame Shoulder moth, Marbled Minor moth and notable sightings of the rare Jersey Tiger and Small Clover Case-bearer moths.

Ruskin Park, which contains a similar mixture of ponds and natural wildlife habitats, was also well used by common and soprano pipistrelle bats. A new wildlife-friendly community garden in the centre of the park, which is being developed by the Friends of Ruskin Park, Veolia Environmental Services and Lambeth Parks, with funding provided by the Western Riverside Environment Fund (WREF), will certainly help increase the number of feeding opportunities for bats as well as insects like moths on which they feed.

Iain Boulton from Lambeth Council’s Parks and Greenspaces department, who took part, said: “To see a Jersey Tiger moth was fantastic as until relatively recently they were hardly ever found in London. This is an important sighting, which will be recorded and used to monitor the spread of Jersey Moths as they apparently move further northwards through the UK. It’s also interesting evidence of how our changing climate seems to be having an impact on wildlife.”

Cllr Florence Nosegbe, Cabinet Member for Culture on Lambeth Council, said: “This discovery just goes to show how vital our parks and green spaces are as a habitat for all sorts of wildlife. We’re really grateful to the Friends of Brockwell Park, Ruskin Park and Carnegie Library, Veolia Environmental Services, as well as London Bat Group and Butterfly Conservation who provided two very knowledgeable experts to lead and manage these events. It’s good to know so many people are working so hard to make all of our parks great places for wildlife including for the ones that come out at night!”

Donald Campbell from Veolia Environmental Services, who manages both Brockwell and Ruskin Park, said: “We’re really pleased with the number of moths and bats recorded over each evening. It’s great that the residents of Lambeth have this much biodiversity on their doorstep, and we will continue to ensure that all of our parks are a place for both residents and wildlife.”

All of the sightings, both common and scarcer species, will be submitted to Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL, http://www.gigl.org.uk) who collate and make available information on London’s wildlife, parks, nature reserves, gardens and other open spaces.

-ends-

Notes to the Editor

Veolia Environmental Services

Veolia Environmental Services, part of the Veolia Environnement Group, is the UK’s leading waste management company. With a sizeable presence throughout the UK, mainland Europe and the world, Veolia Environmental Services employs 85,600 people worldwide, servicing more than 73 million customers in 33 countries. (Source: Human Resources data 2009)

Veolia Environmental Services is the only global provider of a full range of services for handling hazardous and non-hazardous solid and liquid waste. It provides waste management and logistics services as well as materials recovery and recycling.

Veolia Environmental Services generated revenue of €9.3 billion in 2010.

Veolia Environnement (Paris Euronext: VIE and NYSE: VE) is the worldwide reference in environmental services. The company has operations all around the world and provides tailored solutions to meet the needs of municipal and industrial customers in four complementary segments: water management, waste management, energy management and freight and passenger transportation. Veolia Environnement recorded revenue of €34.8 billion in 2010.

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