Butterfly Association Steps Up Conservation Efforts
With a new network of land preserves, the North American Butterfly Association hopes to further support the continent’s populations of endangered butterflies.
The North American Butterfly Association began a new stage in its work to preserve the continent’s butterflies through the launch of its Butterfly Habitat Network (BHN).
To support its conservation mission, NABA wants to purchase plots of land throughout North America, strategically chosen based on the locations of butterflies that are endangered and near extinction.
NABA President Jeffery Glassberg explained that the organization needed to begin creating its own land preserves because the larger landowners and preservationists—like the federal and state governments and large conservation groups—haven’t been able to fully protect butterflies since their focus is on a wide variety of wildlife and larger stretches of land.
“They almost in no cases focus on butterflies—specifically on endangered butterflies, rare butterflies, or butterflies in general—and because of that … incredible rare butterflies have gone, time and time again, extinct on protected land,” Glassberg said.
NABA sees getting involved in purchasing and managing land as a way to ensure that butterflies are receiving the attention they require.
BHN will include the already-existing National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre education center in Texas run by NABA that hosts thousands of wild butterflies and native plant species. However, the new plots will not act as education centers. Rather, they will house the plants required to support wild butterflies, an important feature because butterfly caterpillars only eat one specific plant or group of plants.
By acquiring the plots of land, NABA hopes to protect butterflies native to Southern California, New Jersey, South Florida, South Texas, Central Mexico, and the Northern Midwest prairies. A NABA blog post explains that the butterfly populations in these areas are being reduced by development, pesticides, other conservation efforts, and transitioning habitats.
The association intends to engage all levels of government, its local chapters, and the general public to help raise funds to purchase the land as well as help manage the plots. “We’re working with everybody that we can to save butterflies, but as I say, at the end of the day, sometimes it turns out you have to do it yourself,” Glassberg said.
He explained that butterflies play an important role in connecting people with their environment as well as supporting ecosystems by serving as pollinators and the largest food source for songbirds. “They’re not just beautiful, but they’re working hard and doing their thing.”