Small scale trials of potential solutions to farmland bird decline before use in larger scale research trials or agri-environment scheme options, RSPB Hope Farm, Cambridgeshire, England

Great news for Hope Farm’s butterflies

  • 2000

    The year we purchased Hope Farm in Cambridgeshire.
  • 181

    The number of hectares at Hope Farm.
  • 2589

    Increase in number of butterflies found at Hope Farm.

Can you go further for nature?


The story so far

Senior Research Assistant Derek Gruar explains the latest Hope Farm success story, and what else still needs to be done

"Over the years we have been able to share some great success stories from RSPB Hope Farm. While we have widely publicised the increases in bird numbers on the farm, what’s less well known is the success we’ve had in increasing the numbers of our butterflies."

A combine harvester at RSPB Hope Farm

The impact of your support

Thanks to support from people like you, we have been able to survey the numbers, to measure and quantify this success.

In 2001 over 2,300 butterflies of 19 species were recorded. This figure nearly doubled to its highest yet recorded in 2015 with almost 4,500 butterflies of 24 species counted, including the white and orange-fringed brown argus and the striking two-tone marbled white.

So how did 2017 fare? After a cool start to the year the hot, dry midsummer weather saw good numbers of ringlet, gatekeeper and meadow brown on the farm. So far this season we have recorded 4,889 butterflies.

Meadow brown feeding on purple flowers

Butterfly numbers on the up!


2,300 butterflies - 19 species


4,500 butterflies - 24 species


4,889 butterflies recorded!

Reasons for success

This increase is mainly due to our increasing number of flowering plants on the farm, achieved by increasing field margins and cutting hedges on rotation. Hope Farm has been in the Entry Level Environmental Stewardship (ES) scheme since 2007, where farmers receive governmental funding for providing nature-friendly habitats, and we hope to see this positive impact continue.

Ringlet butterfly in woodland

With your help


You're helping us turn over a new leaf for agricultural conservation.


We're developing the tools and methods for good nature farming.


Your donations are helping us make hay for farmland birds and wildlife.

What more can be done?

This scheme will continue as the new Countryside Stewardship scheme, which allows landowners to plant flower-rich habitats – a number of options pay over £500 per ha with an ask of 1% of the farm area in the scheme allocated to flower-rich options.

With the correct promotion and take-up of these options our countryside can become richer with butterflies. Your support for Hope Farm has already helped us to do so much, significantly increasing bird numbers between 2001 and 2016, and helping to research and share nature-friendly farming methods with the wider farming community. Thank you. Can you go a bit further for nature and help us achieve even more?

Survey of plant rich field margin, RSPB's Hope farm, Cambridgeshire

Can you go a bit further for nature?

Help us grow even more success for farmland wildlife.

Sow the seeds for farming that's good for us and for nature.