A rare species of moth which has not been seen in Hertfordshire since 1976 has been sighted on land in Maple Cross near Rickmansworth.
The moth was first spotted by local wildlife enthusiast Martin Par on July 12 and the sighting has now been verified by Colin Plant, Hertfordshire’s Moth Recorder. The bright-green Forester moth (Adscita statices) moth was identified as a species of concern and presumed extinct in the Hertfordshire State of Nature report, published by the Trust in 2020.
The new sighting is on land in Maple Cross which is under threat from controversial warehouse development. Following the discovery, Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust are calling for the site to be protected from development to safeguard the species, which is listed as a ‘species of principle importance’ in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
The proposed development at Maple Cross for two warehouses has received objections from hundreds of local residents as well as Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, The Colne Valley Regional Park Authority and The Maple Lodge Conservation Society. A Facebook group called ‘Save Maple Cross From Warehouse Development Hell’ has over 500 members.
Matt Dodds, Planning and Biodiversity Officer at Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust, said: “The discovery of this incredibly rare moth carries with it the legal obligation for the Local Planning Authority to ensure that its population is not negatively affected. They must ensure that the development is compatible with the survival of the species or be in breach of their legal duty.
“If the development goes ahead as proposed it will cause the extinction of this incredibly rare species, not just in Three Rivers, but in the whole of Hertfordshire.”
Martin Parr, who spotted the moth, said: “It is unbelievable that sites like this can be earmarked for development without even checking what wildlife they have. There is no excuse for that now, we know these are there and they must be protected.”
Photo Credit Martin Parr