Wider Countryside

Recording Scheme

Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS)

There is growing acknowledgement of the importance of biodiversity in the wider countryside. The focus on historically rich locations for butterflies has led to a lack of monitoring in vast areas of the wider countryside. These areas include farmland, plantation woodland, uplands and urban green spaces.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, run by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), developed the Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) to measure the changing abundance of widespread species in the general countryside.

With 70% of the UK's land in agricultural use. It is essential that butterflies in these areas are monitored to ensure the health our countryside.

What's involved?

A minimum of two visits to a randomly selected 1km square between May and August counting butterflies along two 1km survey lines running roughly north-south through the square. The survey is co-ordinated by Butterfly Conservation with the help of each branch.

You can also choose a Holiday square that only requires two walks 1 in July and 1 in August to fit around you in the holiday period.

Walks need to take place in good weather and follow the same methodology used for butterfly transects. No experience is necessary - just an interest in butterflies, a willingness to learn, normal eyesight and the ability to get to and from the square and to walk the route safely.

Because squares are selected randomly they can cover any type of habitat, including urban areas and farmland as well as more natural areas. In some cases the landowners permission is required before walks can take place.

A number of squares have been identified in Yorkshire which require new walkers for 2020. These are listed below, with approximate locations. If you are interesting in getting involved in butterfly recording and would be able to undertake two walks a year (one in July and one in August) at one of these locations please contact

Take a look at the latest newsletter to find out what it is, which species are the most widespread in the UK and how you can take part.

Hopefully there are still plenty of opportunities for people to count butterflies in places where we’ve had no records before.

The newsletter also includes information on events and how children can get involved in counting butterflies.

WCBS 2019 final.pdf