Ahoj z České republiky – Introducing team Czechia

The Czech part of the project is represented by two organisations, the Czech Union for Nature Conservation Hradec Králové and Education and Information Center of Bílé Karpaty Mountains.

Practical nature conservation

The Czech Union for Nature Conservation Hradec Králové is a member of the conservation group JARO. This group protects nature in modern and yet traditional ways and they are currently one of the most active citizens‘ associations for practical nature conservation. Every year, they provide treatment for more than 900 injured wild animals at the rescue station, and over half of them are returned to the wild. However, in order to give these animals a place to be released back, nature needs to be properly cared for. The group is an expert in superbiodiversity management.

One example of their expertise is that they mow the grass depending on the time of its flowering, suppress them and help to create space for forbs. They are also engaged in clearing out woody species and forest openings. They graze sheep, goats, donkeys, and water buffalos and also help with the return of wild horses from Exmoor and backcrossed aurochs to nature. They are restoring wetlands by using heavy equipment such as bulldozers, crawlers, walking excavators, and tractors. They have already built over 50 ponds and are also abolishing old drainage canals.  They operate in the Czech Republic, Austria, part of western Slovakia, and southern Poland to protect and support the most endangered fauna, flora, and habitats.

Education and Information

Education and Information Center Bílé Karpaty has strong experience in coordination of activities in the territory of the Bílé Karpaty Biosphere Reserve (including regular cooperation with stakeholders, best practice exchange, workshops), in the mediation of services aimed at the development of the region (South-East Moravia where the Biosphere Reserve is located).

The NGO supports the advice body for municipalities and local administrations when they asses projects. The center is in charge of gaining financial resources for the region’s development and coordinates activities for all nature conservation subjects in the region. The education center manages an information data bank supporting the development of the region and cooperates with international subjects. It also provides information for tourists and visitors of the Veselí n. Moravou Town. The center gives expert counseling in the environment and nature conservation area and ensures constant preparation of printed information, methodological materials, and education tools. Education activities for school children and teachers are often organized by the center to ensure an environmental education for the public. They also work as an advisory body for the preparation of projects regarding nature reserves in the region or their development. The Center is publishing periodical printed media and is a member of national and regional networks of environmental education centers.

Get to know the members of the Czech team

Marie Petrů
Project management
Roman Manak
Dissemination
Tomáš Ernest Vondřejc
Reintroduction
Tereza Macečková
Project management
Gita Matlášková
Project management assistant
Věra Hlubučková
Financial management
Miloš Andres
Breeding and conservation actions
David Číp
Breeding and conservation actions

#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project

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Learn about breeding and reintroduction in Poland

Breeding and reintroduction of Parnassius apollo have quite a history in Poland. Learn about it in this posting and join our conference (19.09.2022) for free online to learn about the breeding in the LIFE Apollo2020 project. Our breeding experts from Poland, Czechia, and Austria will discuss the legal regulations, challenges, and benefits of breeding in a session from 10:15 – 10:45 CET on 19. September 2022. You will also be able to ask questions and discuss with them!

The Apollo butterfly became extinct in the project areas at the end of the 19th century. In the early 20th century attempts were made by German entomologists to reintroduce it in the Sudetes The introduced individuals were kept in natural conditions in the years 1917–1926. Another attempt to reintroduce the Apollo butterfly, carried out in the Kruczy Kamień Reserve (Poland), took place in the years 1994-1995 and was made by  Jerzy Budzik.  

The species stayed in this location for the next 11 seasons. In 2019, Karkonosze National Park (KPN) introduced 150 pairs of Apollo butterflies in the Kruczy Kamień Reserve and 300 caterpillars on Chojnik Mountain and the meadows surrounding it. Monitoring in 2020 in both locations showed the presence of a new generation of the Apollo butterfly, which has undergone all development stages in natural conditions. Monitoring has shown that the species is able to use convenient habitats but still requires assistance by the supply of captive-bred specimens. 

The LIFE Apollo2020 project has started

In 2020 the “wild” population was supplemented with specimens from breeding – 490 individuals were released into the natural habitats: 250 in Kruczy Kamień Reserve and 240 on the Chojnik Mountain. In 2021 Karkonosze National Park introduced 1916 caterpillars and 2529 butterflies and in 2022 released 19 562 caterpillars in 12 locations. 

The Breeding farm in Karkonosze National Park

The Parnassius apollo breeding farm in Karkonosze National Park has been operating since 2016 and is located in the Karkonosze Gene Bank in Jagniątków. The farm has specialized infrastructure with breeding tents for caterpillars and imago including equipment, an automated greenhouse, a controlled irrigation system, infrastructure for breeding host plants for caterpillars, and a garden with a collection of nectarous plants. The staff at the Karkonosze Gene Bank have experience in breeding Parnassius apollo, which made it possible to start the reintroduction of the Apollo butterfly to natural sites in 2019 – 2022. KPN’s employees developed a system and methodology for breeding Apollo, which will be used and made available for the creation of new farms within the project.

What do you need to breed butterflies?

Equipment consists mainly of terrariums and foldable tents where caterpillars and imagines are held until their release. Terrariums are closed with a permeable net, which limits the access of predators and parasitoids and are placed in a  breeding tent, which protects them from snow and heavy rainfall. When imago appear they are placed in tents with nectariferous plants to mate. Fertilized females are placed in cotton sleeves in which they lay eggs. Eggs are put into glass containers for winter. Breeding tents are used both at the stage of caterpillar development and imago reproduction.

Also, you can join online and attend sessions from our project leaders in Poland. They will share the best key practices and learning points from the Apollo reintroduction process.

Learn more about breeding online at our conference

During our International conference on butterfly conservation, “Science, ecology and innovation for Parnassius apollo conservation in Central Europe”, the breeding experts of the LIFE Apollo2020 project from Austria, Poland, and Czechia will present and discuss the breeding process, legal regulations and challenges of breeding. Join this panel on Monday, 19. September 20200 from 10:15 – 10:45 CET and ask your questions and share your experiences on breeding with our experts! The participation is free of charge.

Our breeding experts look forward to a fruitful exchange with you!

#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project

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Monitoring, education and feeding plants – There’s plenty to do at the Education and Information Center White Carpathians

During the last month, Education and Information Center White Carpathians (VIS) was very busy. Read what they have been up for:

Cultivation of feeding plants

Their outdoor activities started with the collection of the very important feeding plants for the Apollo caterpillars, like Hylotelephium maximum.

Monitoring of habitats

Monitoring of habitats is another activity that is important because it can be done only during the summer. VIS took phytocoenological images from three different project sides. Phytocoenology is the part of the ecology that deals with the interrelationships of plant species living in plant communities.  The population of Apollo butterflies is highly dependent on the number of healthy habitats with enough amount of food in the area. The challenge is that some plants are easily affected by climate change and the last waves of heat can kill them in the first stages of growth.

The team also mapped an area with some rope and pegs to be able recognize the areas of habitat plants and track their amount.

Education and dissemination

One of the vital ideas of the LIFE Apollo2020 project is to educate people about Parnassius apollo. The project team of VIS is preparing the educational program and they have already defined the target groups for this program. Another part of the dissemination strategy is to present the Apollo2020 project in different professional environments. During the last month, the project was presented at the 26th International Congress of Entomology in Helsinki and at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of Helsinki. The project was enthusiastically welcomed by entomologists.

#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project

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“Iiiihs” and “aaaahs” : team Austria educates the smallest

The project partners strongly believe that social inclusion in nature conservation and strengthening of social responsibility are key factors for sustaining the reintroduced population. For this reason, a number of workshops have been held at schools in Austria in recent months. If we can’t get the smallest explorers among us excited about the Apollo butterfly and its protection, then who can we?

Austrian conservation action coordinator Magdalena Meikl reports, what she has experienced in the schools, conducting the workshops with butterfly expert Otto Feldner:

Weißbach/Lofer

At the end of June, we visited the elementary school in Weißbach/Lofer. The school is a “Naturparkschule” and is located in the middle of the Weißbach nature park. Large butterfly stickers greeted us right at the school entrance. Accordingly, the 16 children of the 1st to 4th grade had already lot of knowledge about butterflies and insects in general. They could name many species, including very rare ones like Chazara briseis. The kids even wore butterfly pants and shorts. Many told us about the caterpillars they found on stinging nettles in the garden. Some children have even bred butterflies themselves, such as the little tortoiseshell or the peacock butterfly.

Otto showed the kids eggs and larvae in different stages from Parnassius apollo. The kids were of course very enthusiastic about that! We told them about the habitats that the Apollo butterfly needs, what is necessary to restore them, and about the project in general. Furthermore, they were asked to guess how many eggs an Apollo butterfly lays. Their guesses ranged from 1 to 20. They were amazed that the Red Apollo lays up to 100 eggs and that the caterpillars hibernate fully developed in their egg covers. In the end, they could touch some of the Apollo butterflies that Otto also brought with him which was the highlight of the whole workshop.

Next year we will meet again to create “Apollo gardens” together with the kids on the area of the school.

Maria Alm

On June 15th, we had a workshop about butterflies and the Red Apollo in the 2nd  grade of the elementary school in Maria Alm, Salzburg, Austria. Apollo-expert Otto Feldner was with us again. The children had already learned about butterflies in class and were able to tell us about many other native species in addition to P. apollo. Of course, they were very enthusiastic about the Apollo eggs, caterpillars and pupae that Otto had brought with him.

They learned about the specific habitats of P. apollo and what everyone can contribute to protect this beautiful and unique butterfly. In the end, we showed the kids the Apollo butterflies, which was of course the highlight of the whole workshop. The children also got butterfly seed bags as a little present and we hope that they will create many colorful flower meadows that will support butterfly biodiversity in Maria Alm.

Fusch/Großglocknerstraße

On the 23rd of May we conducted a school workshop about P. apollo and butterflies in the primary school in Fusch/Großglocknerstraße, Austria. 21 kids from the 1st and 2nd grades learned a lot about the flying beauties from our butterfly expert Otto Feldner.

The children already knew a lot about butterflies in general and could even distinguish between butterflies and moths. Otto brought some Apollo caterpillars and butterflies for the children to see and touch. That was the highlight for the children, even if the green excretions of the caterpillars caused quite a few “Iiiiiii”. At the end, the kids could play with puzzles and memories on different butterfly species. Each child also received a little bag with wildflower seeds to create an Apollo and butterfly paradise in the garden or on the balcony.

We will see each other again next spring because we will create “Gardens for Apollo” together with the children near the school. In addition, we might do an Apollo-excursion somewhere in the valley of Fusch.

We are looking forward to visit the school and would also like to thank the class teachers for their great interest and enthusiasm!

Interested in workshops at your school?

Contact our coordinator Magdalena Meikl (magdalena.meikl@wilderness-society.org)

#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project

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Team Poland – Three organisations combine experience

Project leader- Karkonoski National Park (KPN), Klub Przyrodników (KP/Naturalists’ Club) and W. Szafer Institute of Botany at the Polish Academy of Science (IBPAN) constitute the Polish segment of the project team.

An experienced project leader: Karkonoski Park Narodowy

Karkonoski Park Narodowy is a public institution – one among 23 National Parks existing in Poland. KPN protects the so-called Karkonosze and their fauna and flora. Karkonosze Mountains are the part of Sudety Mountains in which Parnassius apollo became extinct in the XIX century. In 2007 KPN undertook first reintroduction attempts of the species in the area – by placing the eggs in an adequate environment. Next year the Park started to breed Parnassius apollo and release caterpillars and adult individuals. Now, thanks to the LIFE Apollo2020 project, KPN will be able to increase efforts on reintroduction, so as on the monitoring of the species and its feeding plants. 

Knowledge transfer in breeding and reintroduction experience

As part of the LIFE Apollo2020 project, Karkonoski National Park shares knowledge about the breeding of the Apollo butterfly with other partner organisations. Their knowledge serves as a foundation for establishing the methodology of monitoring Apollo in the project and its habitat. KPN plays also a very important role in knowledge transfer and in supporting the creation of new breeding stations. This year 2022,  eggs of Apollo travelled from KPN to the Czech Republic and to the new breeding station which is being established in Uniemyśl by Klub Przyrodników. Having multiple breeding stations and release points is a very important step toward creating metapopulations (groups of small populations) of Apollo. 

Co-lead: Klub Przyrodników

To be the first organisation in Poland that received funding from the LIFE Programme means years of experience and knowledge, which are crucial for a smooth project implementation.

Klub Przyrodników
Co-lead

Klub Przyrodników is a well-established association existing since 1989. It has an NGO status and unites environmentalists from the whole country. The Club implements a range of different conservation projects. It has two field stations – one in Owczary on the Polish-German border and the other one – in the South of the country, in Uniemyśl. A station in Uniemyśl will be developed during the project to facilitate the reintroduction of Parnassius apollo.  This is where a new breeding station for Apollo is located, and where Gardens for Apollo are being created, full of feeding plants for caterpillars and adult butterflies. Klub Przyrodników has a large range of responsibilities in the LIFE Apollo2020 project. KP together with KPN are responsible for the project management and coordinating the whole consortium. During the project, KP will open a new breeding station (already ongoing on the small scale), Garden for Apollo and Education Centre.

Research on the genetics of Parnassius apollo for the successful reintroduction

IBPAN –  W. Szafer Institute of Botany at the Polish Academy of Science is a third member of the Polish team. It is a well-recognised academic institution in Poland. In the project, they are participating through the work of dr Tomasz Suchan – a scientific researcher – focusing on the genetics of Parnassius apollo. Tomasz Suchan will sequence part of Apollo’s genome and will also research the population of the species in Europe – all that with the aim to inform successful reintroduction of the butterfly. Tomasz is also strongly supporting the Citizen Science component of the project.

Get to know the members of the Polish team

Magdalena Makowska
Project Manager
Julia Hava
Project management assistant
Kamila Grzesiak
Conservation actions
Anna Bator-Kocoł
Conservation actions
Grzegorz Hajnowski
Reintroduction
Roman Rąpała
Reintroduction
Dariusz Kuś
Project management
Tomasz Suchan
Genetics
Anna Mitek
Krzysztof Kalemba
Botanist

#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project.

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Small actions – big impacts: visiting habitats in Austria

Together with private landowners and the Austria State Forestry (ÖBF), the Austrian team visited potential habitats in Lungau, a district of Salzburg.

Read more on team Austria: Introducing team Austria

The landowners were very interested in the project and the whole team, especially butterfly expert Otto Feldner was able to describe convincingly which measures were necessary to improve sites to habitats for butterflies. These are for example removal of bushes and small trees, replanting of foodplants and hostplants and controlled grazing for some weeks with sheep and goats to keep the habitats open and prevent them from overgrowing.

With only small actions these sites will be very promising habitats for the Apollo butterfly.

Parnassius apollo L. juvavus, ma, Karteis 2015-33336.JPG
Otto Feldner
Breeding and conservation actions Austria

Not only P. apollo will benefit

Suitable habitats in Muhrtal and Tweng were found for P.arnassius apollo and for other butterfly species like Euphydryas sp., Erebia sp. or Lycenidae. The team could already observe some caterpillars and butterflies of different species, so hopefully, populations will profit quickly from the planned habitat measures. In accordance with the landowners the first steps will start this summer. The whole project is very happy about those successful steps and looking forward to the first actions!

Introducing team Austria

The LIFE Apollo2020 project combines joint efforts of three countries: Poland, Czech Republic and Austria. The Austrian part of the project is represented by European Wilderness Society.

The organization behind team Austria

European Wilderness Society (EWS) is a pan-european, non-profit organisation with a dedicated, multi-cultural team of professionals, whose mission is to identify, designate, steward and promote Europe’s last Wilderness and its wildlife. EWS coordinates the largest network of Wilderness areas in Europe, the European Wilderness Network. Its extensive online and offline European communication strategy raises awareness for Wilderness, wildlife and other conservation issues.

This project offers us the chance to not only recreate the Apollo populations but also improve the habitats of many other species.

Magdalena Meikl
National Coordinator Austria

European Wilderness Society (EWS) has long focused on the protection of biodiversity, ranging from large carnivores to small insects. It has organized workshops, seminars and training for more than 1500 Austrian, German and Ukrainian youngsters to raise awareness about insects, their role in nature and the need to protect them. With an award-winning project, EWS also organized an international insect hotel building workshop, with over 60 participants.

EWS thus has extensive experience in communication and environmental education activities, that are their main input into the project, alongside with conservational measures concentrated on Austrian Alps.

Majestic mountains

Ranging from Vorarlberg in the west to Lower Austria in the east, the Alps are one dominant landscape of Austria. They cover 60% of Austria’s territory and harbor landscapes with the highest significance for biodiversity, where great areas have remained untouched by mankind. They lie within a temperate climatic zone, while the mountainous region is characterized by a relatively humid snowy climate. It is home to more than 45,000 animal and more than 3,000 plant species.

The plants are often well-adapted to their habitat as they depend on specific topographical conditions. About half of the project area is forested, mainly by fir (Abies alba), larch (Larix decidua), spruce (Picea abies), and pine (Pinus sylvestris), Swiss pine (Pinus cembra) and black pine (Pinus nigra). Deciduous forests below​ 600 m altitude occur, consisting mostly of beech (Fagus sylvatica).

About 20% of all vascular plants can be found in the Alpine region. From valleys to mountain peaks, one comes across a gradient of diverse ecosystems with different plant species, which makes some areas very fragile and susceptible to anthropogenic changes. Especially relevant for Apollo is the larval host plant Sedum album, which is decreasing due to the increase of shade and light reduction through increasing bush vegetation.

The biggest majority of animal species is represented by invertebrates. Insect abundance and diversity have witnessed a rapid decline in recent years, largely because of the long-term effects of pollutants. Ensuring favorable conditions for umbrella insect species, like the Parnassius apollo, is therefore crucially important.

High priority areas

The project sites in Austria have been selected as they are areas with the highest priority for Parnassius apollo conservation in Austria. In those areas the butterfly population has decreased and in some areas it has even disappeared. The Austrian population decreased during the last 25 years by 20-50%. Parnassius apollo has been listed as “near threatened” on the Austrian Red List since 2005, yet subspecies are not listed separately. The most up to date Red Lists of the Austrian provinces state that the butterly is “extinct” in Burgenland and Vienna, “heavily threatened” in Styria and Carinthia, “threatened” in Tyrol, Salzburg, and Upper Austria, and “near threatened” in Vorarlberg. In Upper Austria, the it is listed as “threatened” but the lowland populations went extinct. Thus, Lower Austria has the responsibility to protect the last Parnassius apollo lowland populations and habitats for Austria.

Get to know the members of the Austrian team

Max Rossberg
Project management
Nathalie Harms
Communication management
Magdalena Meikl
Conservation actions
Anni Henning
Financial management
Otto Feldner
Breeding and conservation actions


#followapollo and the efforts of our team! Combined skills in breeding, conservation of habitats, research, environmental education, and project management constitute a great combination for the success of our LIFE project

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