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Improving habitat for endangered butterfly

Image of Eltham Copper Butterfly, by photographer Karl Just.

Weed control, tree planting and butterfly monitoring are a few of the steps being taken by Mount Alexander Shire Council to improve habitat for the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly.

Monday 2 November 2020

Weed control, tree planting and butterfly monitoring are a few of the steps being taken by Mount Alexander Shire Council to improve habitat for the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly.

The Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Flora and Fauna Reserve is an area of open Box-Ironbark Forest, which is part of a local reserve system that supports one of the world’s largest known populations of this nationally-significant butterfly species.

Council, in partnership with the Dja Dja Wurrung community and local ecologists, will complete a range of on-ground environment works over the coming months, funded through the Federal Government’s Communities Environment Program.

Recent works at the site include weed removal, which will continue for several months to account for different growing seasons of a range of weeds.

Council has engaged members of the Dja Dja Wurrung community to control larger woody weed infestations such as Blackberry, Hawthorn, Cape Broom, Radiata Pine and Mock Privet to create areas where native vegetation can flourish. Seedlings of the invasive Early Black Wattle which can outcompete other plants for space will also be removed.

Planting of additional Sweet Bursaria is also underway at the reserve. The Sweet Bursaria provides a vital food source for the Eltham Copper Butterfly and its associated ant species.

Local ecologists are also planning to conduct butterfly monitoring in summer to assess the health of the existing population.

Mount Alexander Shire Council’s Acting Environment Officer Nick Layne said the reserve will see significant ecological improvements due to the activities of the project.

“The science tells us that the biggest threat to Eltham Copper Butterfly populations is loss of habitat and that is why we’re taking action,” said Mr Layne.

“Following the discovery of the Eltham Copper Butterfly at the reserve in 1989, local community groups, land managers, volunteers and Council have worked together to protect butterfly habitat through various programs.”

“We’re building on that work by removing a range of environmental weeds and restoring habitat through this initiative, and we’re hoping the Eltham Copper Butterfly will continue to call Castlemaine home for generations to come,” said Mr Layne.

The removal of weeds to assist in the conservation of the Eltham Copper Butterfly is one of the actions in the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Conservation Management Plan adopted by Council in November last year.

Image: Eltham Copper Butterfly, by photographer Karl Just.


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