Landcare Bushfire Recovery Grants to protect endangered butterflies
These East Gippsland endangered butterflies have been critically impacted by bushfires. Credit Luis Mata.
Two years after the worst bushfires in history tore through the region, conservationists are working together with land carers battling to save seven endangered butterflies, found only in East Gippsland.
Researchers and ecologists from the Threatened Species Conservancy (TSC) and Melbourne University are launching a drive to monitor dwindling populations and protect rare habitat for species including southern sedge-darter, large ant-blue and two-spotted grass-skipper.
Kicking off the initiative in Mallacoota, though eventually moving to multiple locations across the region, the plan will see local volunteers and land carers from Far East Victorian Landcare, and traditional owners collaborate to better understand butterfly ecology, identification and survey protocols while land managers will be educated with recommendations on the protection of host plants and butterfly habitat.
Abi Smith, CEO of Threatened Species Conservancy said with over $250,000 funding from Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants, it’s hoped these measures will prevent these species from “sliding into extinction unnoticed”.
“As many threatened butterfly species have very localised ranges and unique habitat requirements such as specific host plants and ant associations, it is likely that the fires in East Gippsland will have severely impacted the seven threatened butterfly species that this project will focus on,” Ms Smith said.
“So without gathering baseline data and running scientifically rigorous monitoring programs these species will slide into extinction unnoticed. These seven butterfly species have such specific requirements that landscape scale actions are not going to prevent their local extinction,” she said.
Funded by the Australian Government, the $14million Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants are supporting 111 projects in regions impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/2020.