Wageningen Conference

The Future of Butterflies in Europe

29-31 March 2012

Eight EuCAN members from the UK, Hungary and France attended this symposium. This was the third event in the Netherlands to discuss the status of European butterflies and some of the research that is being carried out into them. Nearly 130 delegates from 29 countries attended and 75 papers were presented.

The key points were:

  • There is a considerable amount of research being carried out into butterflies and moths which is extending our understanding of their life cycles and the impact of factors such as climate change.
  • Although there is some evidence of adaptation to climate change butterflies and moths are continuing to decline in Europe.
  • Once common species such as the Wall Brown are declining as fast if not faster than the more specialised species.
  • The deposition of nitrogen is seen as a considerable problem for butterflies and other insects in some parts of western Europe.
  • Agricultural intensification has lead to the fragmentation of habitat suitable for butterflies which is contributing to their decline.
  • Holland and Belgium have lost the biggest proportion of their species.
  • Population declines are not confined to butterflies and moths but other pollinating insects are under pressure as well.

Overall the picture is pretty bleak for many butterfly and moth species with all European countries reporting year on year declines in both specialist and generalist species.

Butterfly Conservation UK’s next Symposium will take place in Southampton in 2014. More details of the Wageningen conference can be found at www.futureofbutterflies.nl.