CONSERVATIONISTS say they are winning the battle to help protect one of Britain’s most endangered insect species.

The Tansy Beetle, known as The Jewel Of York, is only found at one location in the UK - along 45 kilometres of the River Ouse in North Yorkshire - and feeds on the tansy plant, whose habitat is itself being overrun in some areas by invasive plants like Himalayan balsam, and shaded out by dense willow.

At its other habitats around the world, it is also classified as an endangered species.

Following improvements to the wetland habitat around the riverbanks between Beningborough and Riccall for wildlife, with a focus on insects, North Yorkshire’s countryside service say chances for the insect’s survival have improved.

The joint North Yorkshire Countryside Service and University of York project has cleared Himalayn Balsam and coppiced willow from 11 sites along the Ouse between Beningborough and Riccall, planted new tansy, and provided protection to prevent grazing cattle from eating it – thereby leaving it available to the beetles.

A total of 260 volunteer days have been devoted to the four-year project since its launch in 2009.

County councillor Chris Metcalfe said: "This remarkable project has brought together volunteers, scientists, conservation bodies, and our own countryside staff, in an exercise which will be of significant importance for biodiversity."