Longcliffe quarry butterfly reserve event shows conservation success

Longcliffe Quarries welcomed more than 600 wildlife lovers to Hoe Grange Quarry last month for an open day at Derbyshire's only butterfly reserve.
Longcliffe Quarries welcomed more than 600 wildlife lovers to Hoe Grange Quarry last month for an open day at Derbyshire's only butterfly reserve.

When a Matlock quarrying firm offered a rare chance to visit Derbyshire’s only butterfly reserve last month, more than 600 people fluttered in.

Longcliffe Quarries invited nature lovers to visit Hoe Grange Quarry and see how the company’s restoration efforts are helping species like the Common Blue thrive as part of the county’s largest colony.

Longcliffe’s managing director Viv Russell was thrilled by the number of people who attended the open day.

He said: “We were amazed and delighted by the enormous public interest in our nature reserve.

“Thanks to the micro-climate created by the surrounding cliffs and trees, our former quarry has been transformed into a unique butterfly haven, and, with the size of the colony, we can feel justifiably proud of our achievements.”

The former limestone quarry covers 4.75 hectares near the hamlet of Longcliffe, between Brassington and Elton, and has not been worked since the 1970s.

The site was judged to be suitable as a reserve due to the remarkable mix of potential habitats which it packed into a relatively small area.

Surrounding the site is flower-rich short limestone grassland while at the fringes of the quarry is taller grass and woodland. The reserve is also full of orchid flowers and other wildlife at this time of year.

To date, 26 species of butterflies have been recorded at the reserve, including several identified as priority species in the government-backed Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)such as the Dingy Skipper, Small Heath and Brown Argus.

BAP priority species are identified as being the most threatened and in need of urgent conservation efforts.

Viv said: “We are working closely with Butterfly Conservation and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to ensure that the site is managed in the best way as a future haven for butterflies and other species.

“For Longcliffe, two things count above all else, sustainability in our operations and sustainability in our community. Our approach to Hoe Grange illustrates what can be achieved, bringing enormous benefits to the flora and fauna that we all treasure.”

Access to the nature reserve is normally by appointment only, but due to the success of the occasional open days more are being planned for the future.

For more information, visit https://goo.gl/CZtsAj.