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switzerland: saving butterflies from extinction

Although Switzerland has set an official target of stopping biodiversity loss by 2010, the commitment shown by Swiss authorities so far indicates that this target is likely to be missed. About half of the country’s wild animal and plant species are threatened with or close to extinction in Switzerland.

saving butterflies from extinction

One major driver of extinction is the modernization of agriculture. When farmers abandon traditional grazing practices, scrub tends to colonize the pastureland, degrading an important wildlife habitat. In 2003, five species of butterflies were on the verge of completely disappearing from the country. In the case of one species, the Rosy grizzled skipper (Pyrgus onopordi), only seven individuals remained in Switzerland.


what happened?

Alongside its political campaigning, Friends of the Earth Switzerland / Pro Natura creates and manages nature reserves and runs projects to safeguard biodiversity, with the support and collaboration of local communities.


FoE Switzerland worked with farmers, who agreed to follow special management plans for their pasturelands. This has ensured the survival of the five threatened butterfly species – a tremendous achievement.


what next?

Now that the risk of extinction is over for the butterflies, these projects will be maintained by local bodies such as the regional Natural Parks authorities.


Natural Parks are large protected areas maintained to conserve biodiversity and help preserve traditional cultural landscapes. They are also an excellent tool for regional sustainable development. The Parks themselves are another of FoE Switzerland’s success stories, since the organization originally campaigned to get them recognized legally, and supported financially by the federal state. FoE Switzerland continues to contribute actively to their development.


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