If you consider the problems that are mentioned on the endangerment page, it is evident that the protection of nature is not an easy task, but needs a multi-layered approach.
Therefore the necessary steps according to the author's opinion are summarized below.
Short term targets
Effective protection of all still existing ecologically valuable habitats
This includes the necessary maintenance measures such as extensive grazing, removal of woods and shrubs, late mowing, thinning, coppice use, establishment of buffer areas etc.
Since the really valuable habitats often only represent a last few percent of the entire landscape, this should be feasible and is already practiced in some parts (e.g. fens, limestone grasslands, heaths).
The much quoted process protection makes sense under the present conditions (especially in Central Europe) only in a few still intact primary habitats such as large bogs, high mountain
ranges above timberline or very few mountain
forests and ecologically low-value areas on the other hand. Otherwise this is just a
massive species extinction strategy in our fragmented, over-fertilized and intensely used landscape because most habitats would become overgrown and trivialized.
The high-quality habitats must also take precedence over agriculture, forestry, settlements, roads, energy (no solar parks in gravel pits, on fallow land or other ecological valuable areas!) etc. and may not be eroded with economic arguments.
At the same time the
exorbitantly high land consumption by ever more new residential areas, roads and low-profile industrial facilities must be reduced significantly.
It can not be good if each community and economic business ratios should only grow more. The resources are in fact
So far, nature conservation was almost exclusively restricted on the short-term objectives (provisional protection of habitats and partial maintenance, often without buffer areas), although sometimes with
only moderate success. If a highway should be built through a bog, then it was ultimately pushed through despite of all resistance.
That alone is not enough, for example, because many habitats are already too small and isolated and the eutrophication assumes such proportions that Central Europe will soon be drowning in uniformity.
Expansion and enhancement of small-scale habitats
This includes the partial removal of spruce forests in the vicinity of bogs, the regeneration of afforested nutrient-poor grasslands, extensification around still nutrient-poor parts of
the landscape, the real protection of nature reserves, the conversion of dark forests in bright, mixed forests with clearings, etc. It's a joke that even within small-scale nature reserves often
counterproductive actions are still allowed, such as fishing, climbing on rocks, etc. Activities such as hiking on marked trails
however, must remain unprohibited (the path obligation is also not necessary in all cases). In Germany recently a habitat connectivity concept was legislated, that should include 10%
of the total area. Unfortunately, this is implemented in a way that it does not hurt anyone. Thus areas are included, which are anyway already protected or very often not particularly worthy of protection as some forest areas in their current state.
Thus there is rarely any improvement. But this could be a very good contribution, e.g. if forest edges, river banks or hedges would be provided with broad and extensively managed verges.
On the other hand it seems even hard to preserve all more important last populations of open forest species like Coenonympha hero, e.g. in Germany, thoroughgoing because of resistence
from local forest circles and despite of strong efforts of the responsible nature conversationists (also magisterial). In these in total comparison only very small forest areas
the preservation of the biocenosis should be pursued in the first place, not the economical optimization of timber production!
Extensification in the area
Even the currently ecologically dead areas should get at least in parts closer to nature and more extensive again. This involves reduced chemical use on fields, broader field margins, reduced fertilizing and cutting on meadows
and in the forests no replanting of all clearcuts (e.g. wind blast areas), recreating clearings and preserving softwoods. Between forests and open land there should be graded junctions and no sharp dividing line
as is usually the case today.
In the long term, climate protection and global habitat protection must be ensured and pollution of soil, air and water prevented. This can be done only by two measures:
- Technological progress towards more environmentally friendly production methods and forms of energy production through restructuring of taxation and incentives
The alternative to technological progress, namely relinquishment and backspace in key areas of our standard of living would not be enforceable and also not desirable.
But at short notice the relinquishment in context of some not fundamentally important things is absolutely necessary!
This means also that only more useful procedures are subsidized and counterproductive methods (such as senseless transportation back and forth in the truck, such as milk from northern Italy to Germany and vice versa) are disadvantaged.
Moreover, not all environmentally friendly forms of energy production are also nature friendly. For example, many floodplains have been completely devalued through the use of water power.
Also the land use of solar parks and wind turbines is not inconsiderable. Solar energy should be promoted only on roofs, at least in Central Europe!
Thus in Memmingen (Southern Germany) a gravel pit with many interesting species of moths (including Proserpinus proserpina) has been replaced by a solar park.
The European Union should change its subsidy policies. Agricultural subsidies should be much more coupled with goals in nature conservation than it is the case at the moment.
In future especially those should get the money who maintain biotopes at least on parts of their total land.
The farmers who maintain for example fens, use nutrient-poor grasslands in a traditional way or implement extensive grazing forms should get more money than the others and then suddenly fens and extensive meadows are no more worthless.
The European Union, which currently may be still regarded as the largest promoter of ever new landscape degradation (keyword: promotion of so-called disadvantaged areas), must rethink widely also in other topics.
FFH (Flora-Fauna-Habitat directive, Natura 2000) is a very good idea but does not suffice in its current implementation.
- Birth control
This point may be regarded as the world's most important task of the future. It is surprising how little significance is still attached to this point.
This involves not only the so-called Third World and the NIC, it is meant we have to start on our doorstep. Central Europe is one of the most densely populated areas on
earth. If it is not possible to reverse the population growth, our planet will be uninhabitable in a few decades, despite all technological efforts. This would be the case already today if
all "underdeveloped" countries of the world would exercise their undoubted right to adapt their standard of living to ours! This birth control is based on beneficiary from a natural decreasement of birth-rate
and on comprehension and can only be reached if the economic safeguarding of the people who previously were dependent on a large number of children and appropriate fiscal control.
In the past centuries epidemics and wars prevented too high population growth. Fortunately, today this is the case only to a small extent and thus other strategies must be persecuted to cope
with the problem. Ignoring it for ideological, religious or economic reasons must not take place any longer.
But in our countries it is regarded as a disaster, for example, when the birth rate is falling slightly because of a short-sighted view on the pension fund.
But I think, in the long term a moderately smaller human population in Europe would only bring benefits. That there will be some necessary painful financial incisions to achieve this objective is undisputed.
But this is rather difficult to interfere in a world of politics that is focused on short election periods ...
Finally it should be summarized that the complex problems require immediate action. And it's not just about some butterflies, that should be protected, but in the long term also a livable existence of man!
With consideration of the nature of man, however, it may be doubted whether the necessary steps have a chance of realization.
Here we behave (the oh-so-intelligent crown of Creation) still quite like any other species, that proliferates at low enemy pressure and sufficient food supply until
the resources are depleted completely and / or epidemics break out. But with our technical means to delay the collapse, the result will be - that is to be feared - just much more thoroughly.
Man can do it in principle, but it seems he is doing something usually only if the disaster is already here and it is too late in many respects.
Nature and species conservation is granted by law in the countries of the European Union, but often has only a little rating.
In case of doubt economic interests are too often still rated higher. This has to change at least to equality.
Species conservation and science
The ecological research has among others the duty to reveal the ecological requirements of the species and to develop protection strategies. In the last decades there was a steady flow of mostly good scientific papers so
that sufficient information is available in many cases. But could this prevent the species from further decline?
Here you can say yes at least in a few cases, e.g. in the species protection programs of Baden-Wuerttemberg (including e.g. Parnassius, Zygaena and others).
Thanks to knowledge of reproduction requisits the often very limited habitats of these species could be omtimized through direct improvements. In other cases important habitats are maintained at least through unspecific habitat protection, e.g. adjusted grazing of grasslands.
Unfortunately such actions are often only small-scale and will not suffice without long-term improvements (reduction of nutrient input, habitat expansion and connection.
While science results in permanent progress in other scopes such as medicine or technology and thus better attendance of deseases or lower petrol consumption of cars, the ecological science too often grasps at nothing.
In my opinion, this is due to a ever greater non-compliance of knowledge and implementation, i.e. there are large deficits in conversion. The reason for this is that nature conservation is too often not as important as it should be for politicians from the EU down to local communities.
It may be true that there are additional problems in communication and understanding, e.g. when the relevant scientific recognitions not come through to the real decision makers.
And how reacts science? I have the impression that science is partly cocooning and searches for substitute satisfactions in increasing the methodical overhead so that it sounds ever more scientific but reveals not always new recognitions. A further hint is the atomization of species. It is good that there are new findings in biochemistry and genetics which show effects for example in systematics. But nowadays there is a very high tendency to rise former subspecies to species level. This may be correct in some cases (and always in cryptic species), but in my opinion it is often a further substitute satisfaction.
What can the individual do?
Now that I have rolled out the basic, but not insect-specific problems and possible solutions, I would like to focus more on the butterflies again.
There are many possibilities, but also false expectations. For example, you can form a butterfly-friendly garden. There native shrubs should be planted and possibly a flowering,
extensively mown meadow could be created. But it should, depending on nutrient status of the soil, not be expected too much as for example an alpine-like flower aspect. After several years,
I myself have managed to receive a relative nice looking, diverse meadow that is mown in August with Rhinantus, Knautia, Geranium and Origanum etc., but many contemporaries would call this a brown badland
in August. You should also have no illusions that the contribution to the protection of species could be very high. In small gardens there settle almost exclusively widespread,
little endangered species, even if I was pleased, for example, with the high number of species of wild bees.
But even these species get rarer and rarer, and thus a certain contribution can be stated.
More important is the educational effect. For this purpose you can plant a butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii) in the garden, which then attracts the beautiful, yet
frequent nettle butterflies. But you should practice this better only in areas where it does not tend to grow wild, although Buddleia is not yet such a pest as Solidago or Impatiens glandulifera (exept for the Insubric region in the southern Alps!).
When there is advertised on some flower seed mixtures with about Sedum album for Parnassius apollo, this is quite ridiculous, because, first, this Sedum species is a weak competitor which
cannot survive in meadows and secondly the almost extinct habitat specialist Apollo would never reach these gardens.
Additionally you are supposed to behave gently in nature: no climbing in sensitive areas, not collecting minerals in small-scale locations such as rock quarries, no cyclo-cross while mountain
biking in sensitive habitats, no skiing off the slopes... These are unfortunately some of the activities that make sure fun, but can be replaced by less harmful ones.
You can, for example, also get involved in habitat management. But here a professional implementation should be guaranteed.
Finally - and most important - we should offer resistance against any habitat destruction, especially in our own living environment, such as when
again an industrial area, a street, a flood retention basin, a ski slope etc. is planned. Of particular importance is further
to support qualified political forces and volunteer groups who work for nature.
What can responsible landscape planners do?
There are plenty possibilities! I just want to give some very short hints. In Central Europe there is nowadays a lack of nutrient-poor, extensively managed open habitats.
Thus it would be very important if for example broad road embankments or verges, river banks or other potential habitats are no longer planted with bushes and trees as it unfortunately still is most often the case, but should be kept free of woods at least in larger parts and should be extensively mown in late summer or autumn instead. Moreover, pits and quarries should not be recultivated because recultivation involves deposition of nutrient-rich soil. Planning of solar and wind parks should never affect so far ecological valuable, extensively or not used habitats. Unfortunately, the last point will be of more and more importance in the so-called turning point of power generation (e.g. in Germany) when you regard the competitive claims in the densely populated European Union.