Greater Anglia partners with conservation group to create butterfly havens at rail stations

Monday, 11 May 2020

Rail stations in Suffolk are set to become butterfly havens thanks to a partnership between Greater Anglia and the Suffolk Butterfly Conservation Trust.

The Trust has donated wildflower seeds and guidance which Greater Anglia’s team of volunteer ‘station adopters’ will use to create more wildflower areas at their stations as a food source for butterflies and other insects.

Many of Greater Anglia’s station adopters – volunteers who help to look after their rail stations for the benefit of their communities – already maintain wildlife friendly gardens at their stations which are helping to support and harbour fragile local wildlife populations.

The donation of the additional seed and guidance will help to extend this work further and increase biodiversity in the vicinity of the rail stations.

The donated seeds include native British wildflowers that are important food sources for many different types of insect, but especially butterflies, and include Oxeye Daisy, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Wild Marjoram, Cornflower, Knapweed, Lady’s Bedstraw, Field Scabious, Viper’s Bugloss, Wild Clary, Kidney Vetch, Corncockle, Hay Rattle and Field Poppy.

In a recent survey, Greater Anglia station adopters reported a wide range of creatures visiting their stations including many different types of butterflies as well as bees, slow worms, bats, foxes, deer and many varieties of birds.

During lockdown, this has become even more apparent with more species moving in – such as seagulls nesting on the roof at Ipswich station.

At Somerleyton, adopter Sue Cox, has already seen a rare butterfly breeding at the station after planting a Buckthorn hedge to help with Suffolk Butterfly Conservation Trust’s Brimstone and Buckthorn project.

Greater Anglia’s Customer and Community Engagement Manager, Alan Neville, said, "We are really grateful to the Suffolk Butterfly Conservation Trust for working with us to create more wildlife friendly stations.

"The railway is increasingly recognised by ecologists as a ‘green corridor’ which provides a sanctuary for many different kinds of flora and fauna - so it’s important that rail stations play their part so as not to create gaps in that corridor - and because insects play such an important role as pollinators, it’s great that we will be able to give them extra support thanks to the donation of wildflower seeds.

"This is all helping the railway in East Anglia to lead the green revolution by being a much greener way to travel - and our new fleet of trains will contribute even more thanks to their more environmentally friendly features which reduce CO2 and particulate emissions in the region further still."

Stations set to benefit include Brampton, Kennett, Melton, Needham Market, Saxmundham, Somerleyton, Sudbury, Thurston and Westerfield.