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05 April 2011

M&S and butterfly conservation launch the UK’s first ‘planting for butterflies’ campaign

4th April 2011 - Marks & Spencer and the charity Butterfly Conservation are launching a national campaign ‘Planting for Butterflies' to encourage people across the UK to plant butterfly-friendly plants in their gardens to help conserve vital butterfly species. The launch marks the second year of the retailers partnership with the charity Butterfly Conservation which will also see the return of the Big Butterfly Count (16th -31st July)

As part of the campaign, Marks & Spencer and the charity Butterfly Conservation will be joining forces with the National Schools Partnership to encourage schools to take part in the Big Butterfly Count which hopes to give scientists an indication of the state of the nations butterfly population, particularly in gardens, urban areas and school grounds.

The last three years have seen butterflies in the UK experience the most dramatic decline in numbers since records began, with almost half now under threat.

Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, said he had noted there were far fewer butterflies these days in his own garden. He said: “Butterfly numbers are falling. Butterfly Conservation scientists have demonstrated that these declines can be reversed. And when you change the environment to help butterflies thrive, all sorts of other wildlife benefits too. Nature comes back to life.”

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Butterflies are one of the most threatened of all wildlife groups in the UK:

· Seven out of every 10 UK butterflies are declining and half threatened with extinction

· Four species of butterfly have become extinct in the last century , and the situation for moths is worse with over 60 species already extinct

This partnership is part of the retailer's eco-plan, Plan A to be the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.

Richard Gillies, M&S Director of Plan A, commented, “We are really excited about partnering with the charity Butterfly Conservation for the second year running. We want to lead the way in making a positive contribution to the environment and society across everything we do and everything we sell. We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers and children across the UK to help butterflies. Now is the perfect time to get into the garden and start planting for butterflies so that come summertime butterflies will have the perfect environment to thrive.”

The UK's largest ever Butterfly Count will take place in July and will have a target of 100,000 participants. M&S will offer a range of butterfly friendly lavender plants for customers to buy in store, with a donation from the profits going to Butterfly Conservation.

Richard continues “Our partnership with Butterfly Conservation is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the importance of butterflies. We hope that our campaign will attract even more participants that last year and be a major way of helping to reverse the long-term decline of butterflies and moths, as well as enhancing the habitats for wildlife and improving the environment for us all.”

Butterflies and moths are very sensitive to environmental change, which makes them a very good indicator of the health of the countryside. They are essential for the pollination of plants, and caterpillars provide food for many birds and other wildlife. If the UK lost all of its butterflies and moths, farmers would see a big drop in numbers of other wildlife including birds as well, and negative impact on crop yields.

A website has been built so that consumers can enter records online, and this will be supported by the M&S website so that consumers across the UK can take part in the Big Butterfly Count.

www.bigbutterflycount.org

Mike Dilger, wildlife reporter from the BBC Television's One Show, is helping students at Bristol Grammar School on Monday 4th April to create their own butterfly garden in the school grounds.

- ENDS -

For further information, please contact:

M&S - Liz Williams, Food PR Manager

020 8718 6369

Liz.williams@marks-and-spencer.com

M&S – Georgia Frost, Food Press Officer

020 8718 6508

Georgia.frost@marks-and-spencer.com

Butterfly Conservation

Tel: 01929 406005

Notes to Editors

The top five nectar plants Butterfly Conservation recommends are:

Buddleia

Verbena bonariensis

The Perennial Wallflower (Bowles Mauve),

Lavender

Marjoram (Oregano).

http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/

The Decline of Butterflies:

Butterflies are crucial to the environment, and there is mounting evidence that some of the most familiar butterflies are now far rarer than 50-100 years ago. Many older people remark that butterflies are far rarer now than in their youth.

The most serious losses probably occurred due to habitat loss during the 1950s and 60s, before anyone kept accurate records, but data from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme which started in 1976 show some worrying declines of widespread, formerly common, species. For example, the Small Tortoiseshell has declined by 60% in the last 35 years.

The Wall and Small Heath are also now on our threatened species list and one study showed that the Small Copper has probably declined by over half during the 20th century. Even the once ubiquitous Large and Small White are less numerous than formerly. So anything we can do to help – on farms or in gardens and parks will be wonderful.

Plan A:

Launched in 2007, Plan A is M&S's five-year eco-plan to tackle the biggest challenges facing its business and the world through five pillars: climate change, waste, sustainable raw materials, fair partner and health. Earlier this year, M&S launched Plan A version 2 and set the objective to be the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015 along with 80 major new commitments.

The new commitments will mean we ensure all M&S products become ‘Plan A products' with at least one sustainable quality, enable our 2,000 suppliers to adopt Plan A best practice and encourage M&S customers and employees to live ‘greener' lifestyles. They include:

-Converting all 2.7 billion individual M&S food, clothing and home items (across 36,000 product lines) sold every year into ‘Plan A products', so that each carries at least one sustainable or ethical quality (e.g. carrying Fairtrade or Marine Stewardship Council certification or using free range or other sustainable ingredients). We will aim to convert 50% of our products by 2015 and 100% by 2020;

-Encouraging 21 million M&S customers to live a more sustainable lifestyle starting today with the launch of a new competition – Your Green Idea – for customers to submit their ideas for ‘green' actions for M&S to adopt. The winning idea will receive £100,000 to be spent on ‘greening' an organisation such as a school, charity or small business;

-Becoming the first major retailer to actively tackle and bring clarity to the living wage debate. M&S will do this by determining and agreeing a fair, living wage before implementing a process to ensure our clothing suppliers pay this wage to their workers in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. Based on our successful pilot in Bangladesh, we will do this by working with our suppliers to improve productivity and management practices;

-Working with M&S suppliers to provide training and education programmes – including in basic healthcare and workers' rights - for 500,000 workers in their factories;

- Helping our suppliers create 200 ‘Plan A' factories with either ethical or environmental features, or both, and encouraging 10,000 farmers who produce our fresh foods to join our sustainable agriculture programme;

-Sourcing all cardboard for M&S food packaging via a single ‘model' forest programme;

-Becoming the first major retailer to ensure full traceability of all the key raw materials used in our clothing and home products including cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, leather and wood;

-Becoming the first major retailer to ensure that six key raw materials we use - palm oil, soya, cocoa, beef, leather, coffee - come from sustainable sources that do not contribute to deforestation, one of the biggest causes of climate change;

-Increasing the number of clothing garments our customers recycle every year from two million to 20 million, including via our partnership with Oxfam, significantly reducing the tonnage of clothing sent to landfill;

- Launching a five-year £50m Plan A incubator fund to support the development of innovative new ‘Plan A' products and services at M&S;

-Offering free home insulation and a free home energy monitor to all eligible M&S employees and giving them one paid, day-off a year to work in their local communities.

For further information on M&S' Plan A, go to: www.marksandspencer.com/PlanA

Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation is the largest insect conservation charity in Europe with nearly 15,000 members in the UK. Its aim is the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats. It runs conservation programmes on over 100 threatened species of butterfly and moth as well as world leading recording and monitoring programmes. It helped found Butterfly Conservation Europe, an umbrella organisation aimed at stimulating and co-ordinating the conservation of butterflies, moths and their habitats across Europe. This has a network of 37 partners in 35 countries. Further information http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/

Butterfly Conservation Company limited by guarantee, registered in England (2206468).

Registered Office: Manor Yard, East Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5QP.

Charity registered in England & Wales (254937) and in Scotland (SCO39268)

 

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