Heathrow’s mam-moth discovery

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Heathrow’s biodiversity engineers are in a flutter after uncovering what is the 3,000th species known to be living in the 170 hectares of biodiversity lands the airport manages.

Why and how Cydalima Perspectalis, more commonly known as the Box Tree Moth, came to reside at the airport is still to be discovered. However, there is some speculation that the collection of fine silks and cashmere in offer at the terminals may have attracted the white winged friend. 

Warned off by terminal security, the creature currently resides within landside areas of the airport, where Heathrow actively manages 13 sites for nature conservation, including four areas that are open for the local community to enjoy. So far this year 210 new species have been found, 146 of which have been mostly various types of moths, flies, bugs and higher plants.

First recorded in Britain in 2007, this highly adaptable creature has since slowly spread to colonise south east England, but is still not all that common. The caterpillars feed on Box bushes and it is likely that the moth will occur anywhere near to where these are grown, most of which are ornamental. The Box Tree Moth is one of 540 moth species discovered at Heathrow.

Matt Gorman, Heathrow Director of Sustainability said: “Heathrow looks after more than just planes and runways – we have a huge interest in looking after smaller winged friends. This discovery marks a major milestone for Heathrow’s biodiversity team who manage a species count more than treble of that of the London Zoo’s. Identifying, protecting and fostering our native species is an important part of our plan to enhance the area around the airport for the benefit of everyone who lives there.” 

Heathrow is a proudfounding supporter of the Colne Valley Park Community Interest Company, providing valuable habitats for protected wildlife as well as important community facilities. The airports approach to biodiversity has earned Heathrow the Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark Award, the only UK national award recognising responsible land management, for nine years in a row.

Through ongoing management of our landholdings, and in partnership with local and regional partners, Heathrow’s sustainability strategy – Heathrow 2.0 – is helping to improve connectivity between green spaces around the airport and protect biodiversity. With expansion, Heathrow plans to enhance and add to existing green spaces, ultimately creating a 15-mile green corridor. This will provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a unique publicly accessible green space for local residents and wildlife to enjoy.

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