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German conservationists call for butterfly census

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German conservationists call for butterfly census
Photo: DPA
10:48 CEST+02:00
German environmental federation BUND is calling for a national butterfly census as numbers of the airborne insects are declining. BUND is urging the public to count the colourful bugs on the annual "adventure butterfly day" next weekend.

The orange and brown Admiral butterfly and the yellow Schwalbenschwanz variety are two common species of butterfly on the decline in the German garden.

"Eighty percent of the native butterflies in Germany today are listed as endangered species and are facing the threat of extinction," said Mark Hörstermann from the German Federation for Environment and Nature Protection (BUND).

While participants at the 9th UN Environmental Protection Conference in Bonn on Monday will discuss how butterfly species can be preserved worldwide, BUND is calling for specific action in Germany.

The Federation is encouraging the public to get outside this coming weekend (24th and 25th of May) and count the butterflies they see in their local parks and woodland.

"Butterflies react very sensitively to environmental changes, and therefore they act as indicators of the current condition of biodiversity," said Hörstermann.  

The census should help determine which varieties of butterfly are not so commonly seen in Germany and in which areas these species are endangered. BUND is encouraging everyone whose interested to participate.

Germany has over 190 different species of butterflies and moths who are more active during the night, however for the past two decades a decline in butterfly numbers has become clear.

"Environmental problems such as pesticides and the loss of natural habitat have drastically affected the butterfly world," explained Hörstermann. "The current data we have on the species is not sufficient, that's why we need people to help us count the butterflies."

Over the past year over 1 500 people have joined in with the butterfly census, according to the conservationist, but more help is needed.

Adventure Butterfly Day is an event organised internationally as well as in Germany and is now in its fourth year. Italy and Austria are also calling for widespread counting of their native species.

The German deadline for butterfly information gathered by the public will be on 7th November and BUND hopes a more accurate butterfly census can be compiled with public help.

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