Butterflies are incredibly sensitive to environmental change, but sadly, many of South Africa’s indigenous forest and grassland areas are under threat. Without viable alternatives, many communities remove and use the vegetation in an unsustainable manner, putting butterflies and other species at risk. The Butterfly Routes project was implemented in order to increase understanding of how forest ecosystems work, while at the same time providing community members with an opportunity of producing an income, and a financial incentive to maintain their environment.
Communities can help to preserve the region’s biodiversity AND benefit themselves, by displaying indigenous butterfly species that they have bred in captivity to tourists and visitors. ACT’s Butterfly Route was developed as an eco-tourism initiative to encourage the public and local communities to be the guardians of their region’s biodiversity. It increases a community’s understanding of how forest ecosystems work and why we should protect indigenous plants and fauna. It also stresses the importance of planting indigenous trees, especially those that play a key role in the ecosystem of the area.
To date, ACT has established four community-based butterfly display houses; at Tembe, St. Lucia and Eshowe in northern KZN, and one near Port Edward on the south coast.
Candidates from local communities have been sourced and trained and now benefit from being employed by the project. In turn, this knowledge is shared with the visiting public and members of their communities. School conservation education programmes are also conducted, teaching children about the vital role of insects, ecosystems and the need to protect indigenous forests and grasslands
For more information please visit butterflying.co.za