Target: Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Goal: Save the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly from extinction via habitat destruction.
A rare species of butterfly found in the United Kingdom is reeling after a rampant tree disease that decimated its only habitat. Recent estimates have determined that the population of the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly has dropped by 96 percent in the last 25 years in the U.K.
This massive drop coincides with the depletion of English elm trees. The number of trees, which serve as the butterflies’ exclusive home, has dropped by more than 30 million in the same time period. These animals are too precious to lose to extinction, and action must be taken if they are to be saved.
The White-letter Hairstreak is a small butterfly that spends most of its life in the tree tops. Their name comes from the distinct single white stripe across their brown wings. The Wildlife Trust, A U.K.-based conservation coalition, has estimated that only 1,000 mature English elms remain in the U.K. The depletion stems from an outbreak of Dutch elm disease in the 1970s and 1980s that has had a “catastrophic” effect on the Hairstreaks’ population. A recent report from activists concluded that the species has suffered “very substantial decreases” over the last four decades.
The Hairstreaks’ plight has not gone unnoticed. Ben Keywood, a butterfly specialist at the Wildlife Trust announced that the butterfly species is now a priority species, meaning it will receive special attention. In addition, a construction project in Sheffield City County was halted after it was revealed that several elm trees would be cut down as part of the deforestation process.
These measures, while encouraging, are not enough to save this valuable species. Sign the letter below and urge the U.K. government to take more decisive measures.
Dear Secretary Truss,
The population of the White-letter Hairstreak is estimated to have suffered a 96 percent population decline over the last 25 years in the U.K. These animals rely heavily on elm trees, which have been wiped out by a devastating tree disease. While efforts have already been taken to protect this precious species, more must be done if they are to successfully recover and restore their numbers.
The Hairstreak butterfly is an iconic species, and they cannot survive without direct intervention. Wildlife Trust recently announced that the butterfly species is now a priority species, meaning it will receive special attention. In addition, a construction project in Sheffield City County was halted after it was revealed that several elm trees would be cut down as part of the deforestation process, making it clear that this is a serious threat that must be addressed. I urge you to do everything in your power to preserve these valuable animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ian Kirk