Saving the White-letter Hairstreak Butterfly

10th December 2018

Shere Kitchens have planted their first Elm trees in collaboration with Clandon Wood Nature Reserve to connect two populations of the rare butterfly and enhance the Surrey Hills. A fantastic collaboration between Surrey Hills Enterprises Members.



Four special elm trees were planted at the Clandon Woods Nature Reserve on Monday November 26 by a team of Shere craftsmen, to help provide a wildlife corridor for the endangered White-Letter Hairstreak butterfly.

 The High Sheriff of Surrey, Dr Jim Glover, was there supporting the conservation measure which was initiated by Shere Kitchens, a young company keen to protect and enhance the Surrey Hills.  He wielded a spade to help plant the first one and said: “It’s wonderful to see a local company so aware of the beautiful Surrey Hills environment that they are so fortunate to be working in. This is a real gift to the community. Businesses need to be willing give something back, as Shere Kitchens are doing here.”

 The White-Letter Hairstreak was once a common butterfly when England’s woods and hedgerows abounded in elms, but when Dutch Elm Disease struck, it did not just destroy the trees. It put this butterfly in danger of extinction as its whole life cycle revolves around elms.

 Ella Driscoll from Shere Kitchens said: “Our web designer Emma from Cow-Shed Designs suggested the tree planting idea and we loved it. We use a lot of wood in our bespoke kitchen units and as Members of Surrey Hills Enterprises we have been inspired to do more to enhance the Surrey Hills and its landscape.  It is lovely to know that we are using wood to make kitchens and planting trees to make woodland. We are so lucky to live and work here.”

 Shere Kitchens, based at Burrows Lea, and Clandon Woods Nature Reserve are both Members of Surrey Hills Enterprises. When Ella heard that Gareth Hurd, Head Groundsman at Clandon Wood, described himself as ‘an environmental obsessive’ she knew they would be great conservation partners. Gareth told Shere Kitchens about the Hairstreak’s plight and they were delighted their tree planting idea could have a wider conservation impact.

There are two small isolated colonies of the Hairstreak at the nature reserve and the aim is to plant more elms so that the butterfly colonies will be able to join up and expand. Ella Driscoll, Mike Hill and Andy Driscoll have pledged to plant a disease resistant elm tree for every bespoke kitchen that they make until the trees create a corridor of stepping stones between the colonies.

“We know we are very lucky to work with wood,” said Ella. “Our bespoke oak worktops are gorgeous because oak is so beautiful, and we don’t want to be just taking – we want to know we’re giving back and working sustainably.”

The company thought it important that their clients should be part of the conservation initiative and they were at the Nature Reserve to help plant the elms.

“It’s great to see Shere Kitchens combining their passion for wood and ethos of sustainability by planting new trees in a local nature reserve,” said Emma Hosking.  “It’s a really creative conservation initiative from a local Surrey Hills business.”

Hilary and Paul Pearson said: “We are delighted to be working with Shere Kitchens. Their conservation initiative of replacing a tree for each kitchen made locally will encourage these rare butterflies into wildlife corridors, by providing them with a home and pantry of developing flower buds to feed on. “


Photo credits:

  • Tree Planting – Surrey Advertiser
  • Butterfly – Jamie Burston, Butterfly Conservation