by Jacqueline Loos
In November 2012, Paul Kirkland from Butterfly Conservation Europe and I organized a workshop on establishing a Butterfly Monitoring Scheme in Romania. The idea was to: (i) create a network of people keen on undertaking butterfly monitoring; (ii) draw up a work plan of how to initiate butterfly monitoring, and (iii) find ways to support and expand butterfly monitoring in Romania in the future.
For years, vast scientific research and recording of butterflies has been conducted in the country. Personal observations of professional and amateur Lepidopterists have noted profound changes in species presence and composition over the last decades. Among other factors, on-going land use changes such as the intensification of agriculture and grazing patterns, or the abandonment of traditionally-managed hay meadows are likely reasons. Climate change may also have an effect. However, few if any of the existing personal and organisational databases are integrated, fully accessible or suitable for investigating long term trends in butterfly populations within Romania. A proper Butterfly Monitoring Scheme – where data are collected over a period of time with a simple, reproducible and standardized method – could allow for the identification of scientifically sound trends in species population.
Monitoring is also a very good way of getting local people involved in identifying and recording butterflies, and appreciating their diversity and beauty. This can ultimately lead to a broader support for the protection of nature, and foster the development of eco-tourism in the country. Some volunteers already agreed on walking transects in different regions over the next year, and with support from Butterfly Conservation Europe and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ Germany) we will soon be able to enter and access the data online.
Thanks to all collaborators for such a productive and successful workshop! We are very happy with the positive attitude towards monitoring programme and I am excited to see results of the first transects, which are envisaged for 2013!