Partner Meeting in Austria

In June, the LIFE Apollo2020 project team gathered for a partner meeting, this time in Austria. The main goal of this event was visiting the habitats of the Apollo butterfly. In Austria, there are still some habitat sites where Parnassius apollo butterflies fly and its populations exist. 

Two entire days were spent for visiting the intact habitats, during which a few imagines were spotted. A lepidopterist (an expert specializes in studying butterflies) was present to guide the team around the sites. This meeting turned out to be very important since breeders from various countries came together to share their expertise.

Austria’s Apollo habitats provided an excellent example for the entire project team. For the success of the LIFE Apollo2020 project, it was very important to visit the sites bacause this allows a better and crucial understanding of functionality of existing habitats in other countries. Therefore, by observing where the Parnassius apollo likes to live, the selection of reintroduction sites will be much easier. 

The sites visited around Austria differ greatly and exhibit unique characteristics. Some are close to settlements, others close to train tracks and yet others are located on high mountains and steep rocks. The differences between the habitats are striking and incredibly interesting because they show that the Apollo is very well adaptable to many different environments as long as there is sun, stonecrops (Sedum sp.) for the caterpillars and nectarous plants for imagines. The project team was pleased to conduct this fruitful and interesting meeting while monitoring methods were discussed and exchanged between breeders and scientists. Acquired experience and knowledge will be used to improve the project.

Here are some photos of the various habitats and the magnificent Parnassius apollo itself.

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
Anni Henning
Financial management
Otto Feldner
Breeding and conservation actions
Kamila Redererova

#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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A long awaited personal meeting – Team meeting in Jelenia Góra

From April 4th – 6th the project team met in Jelenia Góra in the headquarters of Karkonosze National Park to discuss the upcoming conference, the monitoring methodology and the status of the project’s actions for this year. In addition to the extensive exchange and the project discussions, there was of course also a lot to talk about outside of the official meetings. After all, this was the first face-to-face meeting of the project team after a long period of online meetings.

In addition to the valuable and fruitful hours in the meeting room, excursions were not to be missed. The breeding farm of KPN, Parnassius apollo habitats and the soon to be EcoCenter in Uniemyśl, which is being renovated at the moment, were visited and admired.

Breeding farm