Privacy settings

Conservation initiative launches to welcome the Purple Emperor

Purple Butterfly Purple Butterfly

Hundreds of trees are being planted in South Derbyshire as part of a groundbreaking initiative to attract one of the UK’s most iconic butterflies to our region for the first time.  

Several local organisations and companies have pledged to support a new project which is planting trees in local designated woodlands to welcome the iconic Purple Emperor butterfly.

This large and beautiful butterfly dubbed ‘His Imperial Majesty’ has been slowly moving through the UK, colonising some woodland in adjoining counties. East Midlands Butterfly Conservation and South Derbyshire District Council have teamed up with the support of the National Forest Company to spearhead a project to establish the species in Derbyshire and help its northward route.

The council and East Midlands Butterfly Conservation have funded the purchase of 550 two-year old specially selected Goat Willow trees. These trees (also known as Sallow ‘whips’) are viewed as a perfect habitat for the species to thrive and become established.

The project to attract the Purple Emperor and to help preserve local biodiversity was launched at a tree planting ceremony at Rosliston Forestry Centre yesterday, Thursday, 30 November.

Here the key project partners from the butterfly conservation initiative planted the first trees, laying the foundations that will attract this wonderful creature for the first time to South Derbyshire.

They were joined by pupils and teachers from nearby Rosliston Primary School, who were excited to learn about the project and help welcome this magnificent butterfly to South Derbyshire.

Rosliston Forestry Centre is a perfect setting, as the male butterfly gravitates to high points in woods, so planting the Goat Willows in elevated areas close to mature territorial trees is advisable.

Following the launch, other partners have pledged to support the project with tree planting. These include Forestry England, The National Trust at Calke Abbey, Staunton Harold & Foremark, the University of Derby, Derby College, Bretby Golf Club, Lubrizol, Toyota, St Modwen Homes, other local councils, Mimi’s Wood, Grangewood, Catton Park and other woodland sites. 

Independent South Derbyshire District Councillor, Amy Wheelton, a keen backer of the new project said: “As both a Councillor and a local farmer who has meadows and woodland along the River Trent, I would like to applaud this fabulous project - as I am now keen to plant some more Goat Willows to help encourage this beautiful Purple Emperor butterfly to thrive.”

“All residents and businesses need to work together to help create habitats that encourage more butterflies and wildlife in South Derbyshire. So, well done to all involved in this project for helping showcase this.”

The East Midlands Butterfly Conservation is a UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. With Sir David Attenborough as President, its research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats, with projects to protect more than 100 threatened species and an is involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves.

East Midlands Butterfly Conversation’s Ken Orpe said: “The Purple Emperor is one of the most iconic British butterflies we have. I am excited that we have teamed up with South Derbyshire District Council and partners to welcome this beautiful butterfly to our region.

“With the planting of trees across Derbyshire, the support from the group and members of the public we are extremely hopeful that ‘His imperial Majesty’ will grace our woodlands for the first time very soon!”

The National Forest underlined how important effective woodland management projects like this can be.  

“This is a fantastic project and one we are delighted to support. The 2015 Butterfly Conservation report showed that butterflies decreased nationally by 16%, while in the Forest we saw a 14% increase over the same ten-year period,” added Thibaut Lambrey de Souza, community ranger for the National Forest. “By planting suitable habitats and effective woodland management, the National Forest is a living example of how people and nature can thrive together.”  

For more information about the project, please visit: Butterfly Conservation and the Purple Emperor Project | South Derbyshire District Council.

1 December 2023

South Derbyshire District Council logogram

Cookies policy

We use cookies which are small files downloaded to your computer, used to improve your site visit. Some cookies are required to make the site work properly and other optional cookies help improve your experience on the site.
We recommend keeping all cookies but you can manage your cookie preferences below.

This tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences and can be changed at any time.

Review your privacy settings