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Endangered butterfly species to benefit from habitat works

Restoration works to protect Eltham Copper Butterfly

Habitat restoration works have recently been completed at the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Flora and Fauna Reserve for the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly.

Wednesday 7 April

Mount Alexander Shire Council, in partnership with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and local ecologists, recently completed a range of habitat restoration works at the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens Flora and Fauna Reserve 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.

The on-ground environmental works included weed control activities, tree planting and butterfly monitoring.

Stewart Campbell, Coordinator Parks and Gardens, Mount Alexander Shire Council said that the works undertaken would result in significant ecological improvements at the reserve.

“Noxious and invasive weeds can degrade and destroy habitat for the Eltham Copper Butterfly, so it’s important that we focus our efforts and resources on managing this,” said Mr Campbell.

“Large weed infestations at the site have now been removed, and particularly aggressive weeds such as blackberry, hawthorn and cape broom have also been controlled.”

“Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) plants grown from locally collected seeds have also been planted in areas where they were sparse, and that will directly improve the habitat of the butterfly and its associated ant species.”

As part of the habitat restoration works, butterfly monitoring was undertaken by local ecologists with surveys highlighting that an active popular of Eltham Copper Butterfly exists.

“Four, 120 minute searches were undertaken during the butterfly’s peak flying seasons at seven locations within the reserve,” said Mr Campbell.

“Surveys show that butterfly numbers ranged from between 2 – 9 per search, indicating that an active population exists.”

Council plans to continue to undertake weed control and butterfly monitoring at the site into the future, and also explore ways for the community to be involved in the on-going maintenance of the reserve.

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.

The works were funded through the Federal Government’s Communities Environment Program.

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