USING chainsaws to help butterflies might seem like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but this is a big nut to crack.
On Saturday, volunteers attempted to cut down a small forest in South Oxfordshire to make room for some butterflies' favourite flowers.
The hacksaw helpers were responding to an appeal from no less a figure than David Attenborough, who put out a call last week for volunteers across the country to join a day of action with national charity Butterfly Conservation to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
The charity's current chairman Jim Asher, who just happens to live in Marcham, helped co-ordinate the Oxfordshire work party at Aston Upthorpe Downs near Didcot.
He said: "It was a very successful day.
"The forecast was for rain but that never came which we were very thankful for.
"Having a chainsaw definitely increases our productivity."
Mr Asher explained that Butterfly Conservation has been clearing bushes and trees from the area for 25 years to ensure treasured species like the chalk hill blue and grizzled skipper have somewhere to live.
He said: "The areas that are good for butterflies on the downs are the open grassland but you get scrub growing up.
"It starts with low bushes then grows into full-scale trees and you lose the flowers which the butterflies need."
As well as clearing new habitat for the butterflies, the team also created some new homes for beetles, toads and small mammals by piling up the wood they cut down.
Saturday's expedition was actually the team's last outing this year: with the spring fast approaching, this year's caterpillars and butterflies will soon be on their way, as well as other animals which live on the site, so the team need to give the chainsawing a break until the autumn.
Anyone interested in lending a hand when the new work season begins can go to upperthames-butterflies.org.uk to get in touch.
The group who help maintain Aston Upthorpe are among 10,000 volunteers for Butterfly Conservation across the UK.
Founded in March 1968, Butterfly Conservation is now one of the largest insect conservation organisations in the world.
It runs projects to protect more than 100 threatened species.