October 2011. The second largest site for Lesser Butterfly-orchid in the Park exists in rough grazings on a farm near Nethy Bridge. Evidence from long term monitoring suggests that this population may be in decline.
As an important site for Lesser Butterfly-orchid in the Park, the Cairngorms Rare Plants Project has undertaken detailed surveys of the population here over the last two seasons to assess its status and the suitability of current site conditions. Two key threats to the Lesser Butterfly-orchid population have been identified, (i) the sward is becoming tall and dense with a build up of rank grasses and (ii) birch scrub is encroaching onto the site. Both of these issues have arisen as a result of grazing levels on the site being too low in recent years.
Following an on-site meeting with the farmer and discussion of a number of potential management options, a new grazing plan containing measures to promote the persistence and spread of Lesser Butterfly-orchid has now been developed and the farmer has agreed to implement this at the site. In addition to improved grazing management, the project is arranging for removal of the birch scrub at the site this winter to prevent it becoming a further threat to the population.
With these measures in place, hopefully habitat conditions for Lesser Butterfly-orchid will improve and the long-term survival and spread of the species will be promoted at this site.