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Rare Beetle Found in York


6:01am 3rd February 2013

One of Britain’s most endangered insect species has been given a helping hand along the road to survival by a team of conservationists and volunteers led by North Yorkshire County Council’s countryside service.


The rare Tansy Beetle (Chrysolina graminis) is only found at one location in the UK, say North Yorkshire County Council's countryside services – along 45 kilometres of the River Ouse near York.  At its other habitats around the world, it is also classified as an endangered species, they say.


But with the aid of a grant from the SITA Trust, North Yorkshire’s countryside service adds that it has co-ordinated a four-year conservation programme designed to protect the remaining Tansy Beetle population and create the right conditions for its survival.  The work, they say was delivered and supported by partners including the City of York Council, University of York, and the Environment Agency.


The Tansy Beetle – known locally as the Jewel of York – feeds on the tansy plant, whose habitat is itself being overrun in some areas by invasive plants like Himalayan Balsam, and shaded out by dense willow.  The North Yorkshire conservation project has cleared Himalayn Balsam and coppiced willow from 11 sites along the Ouse between Beningborough and Riccall, planted new tansy, and provided protection to prevent grazing cattle from eating it – thereby leaving it available to the beetles, say North Yorkshire County Council's countryside services.


“This remarkable project has brought together volunteers, scientists, conservation bodies, and our own countryside staff, in an exercise which will be of significant importance for biodiversity,” said County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Countryside Services.


“Thanks to funding from the SITA Trust, we have monitored the Tansy Beetle population along the entire length of its North Yorkshire habitat through the use of volunteers and with GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) units provided by the University of York and SITA.”


Dr Geoff Oxford, from the University of York, commented:  “The SITA funding has allowed a co-ordinated approach to practical aspects of the beetle’s conservation and future monitoring will show which interventions have worked and which have not.  This is critically important to an understanding of the most cost-effective ways to ensure the species’ survival in Britain.”


A total of 260 volunteer days have been devoted to the project since its inception in 2009 and its completion in December 2012 say North Yorkshire County Council's countryside services.

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