In 1986 three Dorset butterfly enthusiasts, Robert Goodden (founder of Conservation Worldwide near Sherborne), Clive Farrell (founder of the Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly House) and Dr. Jeremy Thomas, the internationally renowned entomologist responsible for the re-introduction of the Large Blue into England, got together to found the Dorset Branch, saying that Butterfly Conservation must be represented in one of the best counties for seeing butterflies, but where numbers were already showing a serious decline. In October 1987 our inaugural meeting was held in Dorchester, attended by some 60 people, and later that year a committee was formed. Les Clements (who drew the Lulworth Skipper in our Logo) was soon to become the first chairman, with Phil Grey treasurer, Bill Shreeves doing site survey work and Sarah Bovey as Secretary.

The first Branch magazine was produced in the spring of 1988, showing some of the same concerns as we have today: the Pearl-bordered Fritillary at Stubhampton Bottom and tipping in the Portland quarries. The Branch has made progress from the 50 members of 1988 to nearly 500 in 2004 and over 700 in 2013.

Tall narrow banner advertising Dorset Branch of Butterfly Conservation

Dorset Branch banner. Photo: Lyn Pullen

1994 was a landmark year for the Branch when Professor David Bellamy opened the ARC Broadcroft Quarry Butterfly Reserve on Portland. Since then, we have also opened Perryfields Butterfly Reserve on Portland, Alners Gorse Butterfly Reserve in North Dorset and Lankham Bottom Reserve in West Dorset. See our Places pages for more information on these Reserves.

Our schemes for encouraging the monitoring of butterfly species have grown from a few transect (butterfly-monitoring) walks every year to over 60 transects, plus numerous other schemes. The re-vamp of the website in 2013 added another dimension in enabling butterfly records to be easily recorded by the general public.