Butterfly Conservation in China: From Science to Action
Yunnan Key Laboratory of International Rivers and Transboundary Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650500, China
Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650500, China
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33149, USA
School of Agriculture, Yunnan University, Kunming 650500, China
Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Ecology and Environment of the P.R.C., Nanjing 210042, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally.
Insects 2020, 11(10), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11100661
Received: 23 August 2020 / Revised: 20 September 2020 / Accepted: 22 September 2020 / Published: 25 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Butterfly Biodiversity and Conservation)
Butterflies provide numerous ecological and socio-economic services and are important indicator species. China is home to over 2000 species of butterflies and in recent years has elevated biodiversity conservation on the national agenda. This manuscript reviews China’s butterfly conservation efforts and its legal and policy frameworks. We note some of the current limitations in butterfly conservation (inappropriate listing of protected species; over-reliance on inventories, rather than holistic research) and offer numerous recommendations to improve conservation efforts. Our recommendations include those related to integration of scientific data into policy (designation of scientifically-based protected areas; development of appropriate criteria for classifying protected species; use of umbrella species for conservation purposes), adoption of butterfly-friendly land use policies in rural and urban areas, butterfly ranching and farming, use of citizen science to improve data collection, and enhanced public outreach and environmental education campaigns. Our recommendations will help further the goals of China’s National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011–2030).
About 10% of the Earth’s butterfly species inhabit the highly diverse ecosystems of China. Important for the ecological, economic, and cultural services they provide, many butterfly species experience threats from land use shifts and climate change. China has recently adopted policies to protect the nation’s biodiversity resources. This essay examines the current management of butterflies in China and suggests various easily implementable actions that could improve these conservation efforts. Our recommendations are based on the observations of a transdisciplinary group of entomologists and environmental policy specialists. Our analysis draws on other successful examples around the world that China may wish to consider. China needs to modify its scientific methodologies behind butterfly conservation management: revising the criteria for listing protected species, focusing on umbrella species for broader protection, identifying high priority areas and refugia for conservation, among others. Rural and urban land uses that provide heterogeneous habitats, as well as butterfly host and nectar plants, must be promoted. Butterfly ranching and farming may also provide opportunities for sustainable community development. Many possibilities exist for incorporating observations of citizen scientists into butterfly data collection at broad spatial and temporal scales. Our recommendations further the ten Priority Areas of China’s National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011–2030).