The Society’s Conservation Working Group was formed in 1994, its formation being driven by the increasing amount of time being spent by the Society’s Council in discussing conservation and related matters.
It was therefore considered that having a conservation interest group within the Society could act as a filter for many of these issues and this has indeed proved to be the case.
The aims and objectives of the Conservation Working Group are:-
- To promote invertebrate conservation in general and to encourage the members to apply their expertise in pursuance of this aim.
- To respond to issues affecting the survival of invertebrates and specifically their habitats
- To provide guidance to the Society and its Council and representatives on conservation issues
- To respond to conservation related enquiries made to the Society by various bodies and individuals.
- To promote joint initiatives between the Society and other natural history and conservation organisations.
- To promote the validity of responsible invertebrate collecting as a legitimate means of gaining knowledge of the fauna for science and conservation.
- To promote accurate identification and recording of taxonomic species data as befits the Society’s role as the leading field entomological Society in the UK
- To stimulate, support and co-ordinate practical invertebrate conservation projects.
Formation of the Group has been beneficial in dealing with items discussed at meetings of Invertebrate Link – Joint Committee for the Conservation of British Invertebrates ( JCCBI), including consideration of Quinquennial Reviews of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, responding to proposed Governmental legislation including for example a recent consultation by the Law Commission Review (2012) on proposals for consolidating wildlife legislation and various European Union initiatives including the Habitats Directive Etc.
Continued practical support and involvement with JCCBI backed as it is by thirty-six present constituent members representing all the major Governmental and NGO invertebrate conservation organisations in UK is considered essential in maintaining influence upon decisions made effecting our invertebrate fauna.
Currently R.W. Uffen and J.W. Phillips represent the Society on the Committee with the latter also serving as a member of the Executive.
Council of the Society receives regular reports of progress within the group and is supportive of initiatives that the group has undertaken, these have in the past included special field meetings, invertebrate identification days held jointly with other conservation bodies and promotion of priority species lists for subsequent action.
In 1998 the BENHS Council approved the Society’s participation in a Biodiversity Action Plan project to study the autecology of three heath land flies namely Thridanthrax fenestratus ( Fallen), Bombylius minor (L), ( Diptera: Bombyliidae ) and Chrysotoxum octomaculatum ( Curtis), ( Diptera : Syrphidae ). This became known as The Heathland Flies Project and was co-ordinated by Stephen Miles and Dr John Muggleton as Lead Partners for English Nature ( now Natural England ).
It involved many members in observational studies of these three species between 1999 and 2004, supported by annual grants from English Nature and the Society. Since that time individual members have continued to provide records of these species to the convenors and these studies have enabled continuing advice to be provided to the conservation sections of The National Trust, Minister of Defence and The Forestry Commission to support heathland habitat creation or the two Bombyliid species. This work has also stimulated a number of articles giving species conservation advice to other organisations including RSPB. Further advice has been provided via workshops on the micro-habitat requirements of these species to Natural England and the Dorset Urban Heath’s Partnership, a role which continues to the present day.
A further relatively recent iniative involved research into the History,Ecology and Status of The Brighton Wainscot Moth Oria musculosa ( Hubn) ( Lepidoptera Noctuidae ) and it’s possible extinction within the UK; funded by Butterfly Conservation and the Society. This effort extended over the period 2000-2003 concentrating on it’s last known stronghold in the Tilshead area of Salisbury Plain, with a last record in 2001. See Phillips.J.W & Parsons.M.S. 2005 – British Journal of Entomology and Natural History – Vol 18 – Part 2.
The Society was also instrumental in initially initiating the establishment of Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust and members provided support in its formative years and is one of its Membership Organisations. BENHS unfortunately has no full time paid staff although we now have a part-time Administrative Assistant namely Rosemary Hill . The links with Buglife have proved invaluable as the Society’s expertise as field entomologists coupled with Buglife’s full time staff ensures a continuing partnership for the benefit of invertebrate conservation in general.