Rare butterflies back from brink in Cumbria

Marsh fritillary butterfly Marsh fritillaries have suffered from loss of their natural habitat

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A species of rare butterfly has been successfully re-introduced to Cumbria.

The marsh fritillary was once widespread across the county, but loss of habitat led the the population dying out there in 2004.

A project to return them was started in 2007 by Natural England and Butterfly Conservation, with thousands released in secret locations.

This led to the butterflies making a comeback at four sites, where the colonies are now thriving.

At one of the sites, Finglandrigg Wood National Nature Reserve, a trail and on-site interpretation guides visitors to the colony.

Decline of the marsh fritillary has been caused by the loss and isolation of the wet pastures that are their preferred habitat.

Drainage, agricultural improvement, conifer plantations and neglect have seriously reduced the number and condition of their habitat across the UK.

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