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More than 200 different species of wildlife including locally rare butterflies have been found in Edinburgh’s newest park.

Experts joined forces with local citizen scientists this summer to search for plants and animals at Little France Park in the east of the city during a special Wildlife Week.

The species recorded in the park included wildflowers, fungi and orchids, in addition to insects such as dragonflies, butterflies and bumblebees.

Small skipper butterfly © Mairi McIntosh

Notably, the locally rare small skipper and speckled wood butterfly were found as well as high numbers of the small copper butterfly, a species which has declined by 50% in the last forty years.

Ian Mackenzie, Living Landscapes Programme Manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “We’re hugely grateful to everyone who supported Wildlife Week in Little France Park. The results of our surveys demonstrate how important this site is for local wildlife, and as habitats develop over time we may see even more residents move in.

“Climate change and habitat loss mean that large green spaces like Little France Park are more important than ever, both in terms of their value for wildlife but also as places for people to connect with and appreciate nature. Not everyone is a wildlife expert but we can all appreciate seeing a kestrel or a buzzard flying overhead so close to the city centre, and taking the time to walk through a wildflower meadow that is buzzing with insects is always a rewarding experience.”

Anthony McCluskey, Conservation Officer, Butterfly Conservation Scotland said: “Little France Park is one of the best places in Edinburgh to see butterflies, and volunteers have now recorded at least 13 species there.

“Insect populations are in steep decline across the UK, so we desperately need more public greenspaces to be managed this way. Parks like this, with areas of long grass and diverse wildflowers, are much more useful for insects and other wildlife and we hope the public will show their support for this kind of management.”

Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, Culture and Communities Vice Convener, City of Edinburgh Council said: “We’re very pleased to have delivered the Little France project in partnership with Edinburgh Living Landscape and Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust. Little France Park is a valuable asset for local people and wildlife and we want it to be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Opening the new cycle paths at Little France Park.

Little France Park opened in September 2018. It is the city’s largest new park in a generation. Its development has been led by the Edinburgh & Lothians Greenspace Trust on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council. The project has reclaimed a large areas of unmanaged grassland for the local community and carved out a green corridor linking the city centre to Midlothian.

Edinburgh Living Landscape’s Wildlife Week was supported by the Botanical Society of Scotland, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, Castleview Primary School, Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Sarah Ford Hutchinson and Barrie Williams.


Rory Syme