November 19, 2008

Group seeks to protect British bug habitat

Efforts are under way to try to save a plot of land described as one of Britain's top three habitats for insects from becoming a truck park and warehouse.

A lawyer for Buglife -- the Invertebrate Conservation Trust -- has asked three judges to protect the more than 1,300 species of creepy-crawlies found in grassland at the West Thurnrock Marshes in Essex, the Times of London reported Wednesday. Attorney Michael Fordham said planners did not consider protecting rare wildlife when the development was approved.

Conservation groups say the five-banded weevil wasp and the saltmarsh shortspur beetle, among the 900 species inhabiting the site, could disappear from Britain if the development proceeds, the Times said.

Thirty-six species of insects that call the band of land home are listed in the British conservation Red Data Book, and 17 have been identified as priority species which need protection.