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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