The United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan moths - selection, status and progress on conservation

  • Published source details Parsons M.S. (2004) The United Kingdom Biodiversity Action Plan moths - selection, status and progress on conservation. Journal of Insect Conservation, 8, 95-107.


The UK Biodiversity Action Plan was published in 1994, in response to the Convention on Biological Diversity signed in 1992. This paper assesses how inclusion in the Biodiversity Action Plan has affected the 53 moth species identified as priorities, ten years after the plan was initiated.

Moths were selected for the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) by a committee of professional and amateur moth specialists and staff from major conservation agencies. Of the 53 priority species, 37 have full Action Plans, 16 have ‘species statements’.

Species Action Plans are organised nationally by a nominated lead partner. For moths, a national conservation charity, Butterfly Conservation, is the lead or joint-lead partner for all but one species. Three staff worked on implementing the BAP for priority moths, two from 1999, and a third from 2002. Their strategy was to increase voluntary effort and involve a range of organisations to implement the plans with limited funds. Effort was prioritised from the outset, in favour of species with known sites, where action was achievable with reasonable resources.
To increase voluntary effort from amateur specialists, the project focussed on raising awareness with regular articles, training events, field meetings and an email newsletter during the field season publicising where priority species had been recorded each week.
The author made a subjective assessment of the effect of all this effort by comparing what is known about the status of each species now with what was written into the BAPs five or more years before.

After ten years, and five summers of concerted effort, it was too early to assess whether the Biodiversity Action Plan had created positive conservation outcomes for individual species. The main outcome was much better knowledge of the status and ecology of the species. Only three were still poorly known.

Of the 50 priority species with reasonably good knowledge of their status following the BAP work, 27 were known to be in a better state than was previously thought, often because intensive surveys have identified more sites. Fifteen showed no change in status, and eight were worse than was thought. Four species were found to be considerably more seriously threatened than was thought when the plans were compiled: the marsh moth Athetis pallustris, the bordered gothic Heliophobus reticulata marginosa, the Brighton wainscot Oria musculosa and the pale shining brown Polia bombycina.
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