Go outside and count butterflies is the message from Sir David Attenborough, president of Butterfly Conservation.

The charityis running its annual count (until August 11) and hopes for evidence that butterfly populations are recovering after the disastrously wet summer of 2012. Some 8,000 people had participated by the end of last week. ‘There are probably fewer butterflies in the UK than at any other point during my lifetime,’ says Sir David, 87. ‘Their presence acts as a barometer of the health of our environment. Their ongoing decline tells us that all is not well in the British countryside.’

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A report by the European Environment Agency says grassland butterflies, especially the common blue, have declined by nearly 50% between 1990 and 2011. It suggests that butterflies suffer from both over-intensive farming and from the abandonment of low income farmland due to lack of support from the CAP-the problem is particularly acute in northwest Europe.

To join the Big Butterfly Count, visit www.bigbutterflycount.org or telephone 01929 400209.

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