The benefits to environmental conservation and community through butterflies
Promoting a healthy population of butterflies
The allure of butterflies may be attributed to their vibrant colours and fragile beauty and certainly they remain as popular as ever with butterfly houses and nature centres. In Great Britain alone, records taken over a 10 year period have shown a significant decrease in numbers with some butterflies facing a real risk of extinction due to climate change and loss of natural habitat. The same story resonates around the world and much work has been undertaken in order to reverse the fortune of some highly threatened species, whilst at the same time, ensuring healthy populations of the most sought after butterflies in the world.
Protecting the rain forests
And so it is that butterfly farming addresses the needs of both the conservationist and the paying collector with the added benefit of enhancing the livelihoods and environment for the farmers themselves and many members of the local community. Butterfly farms are found all over the world but the largest are in countries where areas of tropical rain forest are home to a huge variety of magnificent butterflies: Kenya, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Each of these countries is subject to the devastating effects of deforestation but the positive impact that butterfly farming has had on the incomes of the indigenous people has introduced them to an alternative method of survival which no longer involves the unsustainable exploitation of their environment.
Sustaining important ecological habitats
Butterflies have relatively short life-cycles and farmers have learnt how to cultivate the optimum environment to ensure the development of the larvae through to the pupae and butterfly stage. Native vegetation is an essential factor for their survival and the butterfly farmers, supported by insect suppliers, have become experts in understanding and sustaining indigenous plant life, learning about the misuse of chemicals and the possible spread of invasive plant life, pests and predators if the ecological balance is disturbed.
Eco-tourism & education
The most beautiful butterflies often originate from parts of the world which are, at times, remote and lacking in income potential. Butterfly farming has provided rural economies with development opportunities, employment and promotion through eco-tourism which is often supported by conservation groups and individual governments who have been encouraged to create more forest reserves and areas of national parkland. Public live displays at the butterfly farms themselves continue to grow in popularity, increasing awareness of the fragility of nature and the role of mankind in ensuring that human activity does not become responsible for the loss of these magnificent creatures. As well as being sold to private collectors, specimens are sold to educational institutions and natural history museums in order that people all over the world may continue to learn about the butterflies, the breeding programmes which have been developed to ensure their continued existence, and the positive effects that butterfly farming has brought to environmental conservation.