CONSERVATION OF BUTTERFLY DIVERSITY ADOPTED BY HABITAT CONSERVATION
Monday, 08 January 2018 | PNS | Haldwani –
A new approach to in-situ conservation of butterfly diversity has been adopted in the form of habitat conservation through butterfly zone in the Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary of the Haldwani forest division here.
According to the Haldwani divisional forest officer Chandra Shekhar Sanwal, the conventional species level approach for biodiversity conservation has major limitations; hence a policy shift from conservation of a single species to their habitat is justified and is the need of the hour. In this line, a new approach for habitat conservation through setting up Butterfly Zone was conceptualised at Chorgalia range of Haldwani forest division. Butterfly zone was set up in a one hectare area of moist deciduous teak forest patch in the campus of Chorgalia range of Nandhaur wildlife sanctuary. As a result of enrichment and conservation of habitat having multiple indigenous host plants, there was remarkable increase in butterfly population in the zone around the year. Altogether, 80 species of butterflies were recorded here. The naturally landscaped butterfly zone with its rich butterfly fauna is also an attraction for the visitors. Besides conserving the butterfly fauna the zone also conserves the entire habitat that encourages a community of native plants and insects to thrive in the zone.
The DFO further said that the lives of plants and butterflies are exceptionally interlinked. The butterflies are also considered to be an umbrella species since their conservation would lead to conservation of several life forms in the ecosystem such as birds, reptiles and even mammals. An environment that enhances the survival of butterfly would therefore, enhance the survival of not only the butterflies, but also a variety of organisms and ultimately human beings. In a particular habitat if butterfly is endangered then the plants, insects and vertebrates living in that habitat are also at risk. Therefore endangered butterflies serve as barometer of natural conditions in that habitat. In this line a new approach for habitat conservation through setting up Butterfly Zone was conceptualised. The Butterfly Zone encompasses natural patches of vegetation having butterfly host plants, usually found along streams, rivers or near ponds and waterfalls. It is important to identify and conserve such zone as conserving these habitats will indirectly conserve a variety of native plants as well as number of organisms surviving on these plants.
Observations showed that Pierid butterflies like common grass yellow (Eurema hecabe) and Danaid butterflies like common crow (Euploea core ) were found almost throughout the year. Common Mormon (Papilio polytes) and Grass Jewel (Freyeria trochilus) were found to be the monsoon visitors from July to November. The winter visitors noted were one-spot grass yellow, striped blue crow, common jezebel, Indian wanderer and lemon pansy (Junonia lemonias ). The success of the butterfly zone in the natural forest area was clear from the number of butterflies visiting the area throughout the year. Altogether, 80 species of butterflies were recorded here.
Sanwal said that butterflies maintain the ecosystem by acting as pollinator, prey, biological pest control and induce genetic variation in plants. But, human activities and global climate fluctuation affect and even destroy the butterfly habitats due to which the butterfly population is declining rapidly. Grater emphasis should be placed on management of habitat with action also aimed at preserving the existing habitats. Also, there is a need to enrich the degraded existing habitats integrating the disappearing native plants into the landscape for enhancing the diversity of the habitat.Governmental policy on forestry, farming and road planning also have great effect on the abundance and distribution of butterflies.
The butterfly zone represents such a natural forestry system that encourages a community of native plants and insects to thrive in the zone. Thus creating “Butterfly Zone” will not only ensure the in-situ conservation of butterfly diversity but also the habitat conservation involving biodiversity conservation of the region, he added.
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