Dorset's Southern Damselflies

The British Dragonfly Society is working on an ambitious cross-organisational project to save the stunning Southern Damselfly from extinction.

The Southern Damselfly suffered a catastrophic decline of 30% between 1960 and 2000 in the UK and has gone extinct, or is close to extinction, in seven European countries. For these reasons, it is currently listed as Endangered on the British IUCN Red List and Near Threatened on both the European and Global Red Lists.

Purbeck, in Dorset, is one of the few remaining areas in the UK which supports the Southern Damselfly. The species is found in small populations scattered across the peninsula but the status of some of these had become uncertain due to a lack of recent survey data. Some are also known to have declined, with a lack of appropriate habitat management the likely cause, as it is across much of the species range.

The British Dragonfly Society is working to change that.

We have partnered with all local organisations with Southern Damselfly populations on their nature reserves or with an interest in the species’ future status in Dorset. The partnership includes the RSPB, National Trust, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Dorset Environmental Records Centre, Living Record and Dorset County Council.

2016 represented the first year of the project. We had an ambitious plan to cover all known and suspected Southern Damselfly sites in Purbeck to determine the status and strength of the populations. This required the help of enthusiastic volunteers, without whom the project would not be possible. We are still waiting for many of the results to come in, but we already know that this summer a new population of Southern Damselflies has been discovered on one of the sites. This is exciting news from so early on in the project.

The next steps are to collate and review the survey results from this year, use this information to prioritise survey efforts next year and plan the habitat assessments which will form the next stage of the project.

If you are interested in getting involved in this survey, get in touch with our conservation officer, Eleanor Colver.