Highlighting the increase in Marsh Fritillary butterfly webs this World Biodiversity Day

The Marsh Fritillary is Ireland’s only legally protected insect and one of the few protected in Northern Ireland.

The Marsh Fritillary (Euphydras aurania) is Ireland’s only legally protected insect and one of the few protected in Northern Ireland. It is also listed as “vulnerable to extinction” within the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This species has faced habitat loss and fragmentation, which has led to the decline in its population across Northern Ireland. While in the past the Marsh fritillary butterfly was recorded in 58 different sites, it is currently only known from eight, with Energia Group’s Teiges Mountain Windfarm being the only colony site in County Fermanagh where numbers are currently recorded. To combat this decline, at its Teiges site, the company is protecting and managing the delicate habitat necessary for the butterflies to thrive.

A key component of the thriving Marsh Fritillary colony is the meticulous adherence to grazing prescriptions outlined in the site’s Habitat Management and Enhancement Plan, as the condition of the breeding habitat is the most significant factor relating to the long-term survival of the colony. Both over-grazing and under-grazing can have a detrimental effect on breeding marsh fritillaries, so by maintaining optimal grazing levels, Energia has ensured an abundance of food plants crucial for the species’ survival, resulting in the classification of the breeding habitats in the site as being in “Good Condition.”

Sean McGovern, Environmental Officer, Energia Group said, “At Energia Group, biodiversity preservation and the responsible use of the natural capital are logical extensions of our sustainability commitments. The Marsh Fritillary count at our Teiges site is one of several examples of our contribution to biodiversity, as protecting our environment and the biodiversity that surrounds us is an important focus for how we do business. Other examples of include rewetting peatland areas, planting native hedgerow species, and erecting bird boxes all aimed at enhancing biodiversity at our sites.”

World Biodiversity Day is celebrated on May 22 against the backdrop of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as biodiversity preservation contributes to 14 of the 17 SDGs. As a company aligned to the UN SDGs, Energia Group’s contribution to biodiversity plays an important role in its overall sustainability commitments. The Group is a business supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, as well as an active member of the Business for Biodiversity Ireland platform and the Nature + Energy project with the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions. Additionally, through a partnership with Vyra, Energia Group also offers biodiversity training to all of its employees.