Communication, Education & Public Awareness

Projects from the Global Initiative

The "Adopt of a Butterfly" Project

Flora-for-Fauna - Jill Duchess of Hamilton

Adopt a Butterfly project for schools - to be launched at Battersea Park Zoo: raising an awareness of the importance of growing native plants by showing connections between indigenous plants and animals.

The planting of Battersea Zoo's garden with the native plants essential for the local butterflies will show how by selecting the right plants people can help the environment, just as they do by recycling newspapers, using bottlebanks, saving trees and conserving energy. Schools will see how they can redress the balance of declining butterflies by growing hospitable plants: especially specific leaves for future butterflies. No holly, no holly blue butterfly; no sorrel, no small copper butterfly; no buckthorn, no brimstone butterfly...

Flora-for-Fauna(fff) is a charity (1060715) based at the Linnean Society, London, which shows how plant-animal relationships help Britain's wildlife. It was launched at the end of 1994 to promote "Growing garden plants to help Britain's wildlife" and has become a recognized force in the promotion of biodiversity. The substance, the backbone of fff is the Postcode Plants Database compiled in the Biogeography Laboratory at the Natural History Museum

fff aims include encouraging gardeners, farmers and councils to grow garden plants which benefit Britain's birds, bees, butterflies and other animals with an emphasis on indigenous local plants.

The Adopt A Butterfly project includes children growing the foodplants for the caterpillars of their local butterfly in a way that is attractive to the insects.

In both Key Stages 1 and 2 children are required to follow a programme of study which includes investigations into "Life Processes and Living Things" - work on life processes should be related to pupils' knowledge of animals and plants in the local environment.

In some schools students will be using a special instrument called a penetrometer to monitor leaf toughness. Leaf toughness is a major survival factor for newly hatched caterpillars. The students will be studying how variations in leaf toughness are influenced by climate, soil type and seasons. They will also be monitoring growth rates of the plants and compare them with other schools.

Students will also record sightings of butterflies and the larval development of the caterpillars on their vines. In certain cases eggs or larvae will be released in suitable areas when the plants are of suitable size. With assistance some schools may prepare databases and maps of the current distribution of their adopted butterfly species in their area along with the distribution of its foodplants.

It is hoped that the children will encourage the growing of these plants vital for the survival of butterflies. Later key strategic areas in communities will be targeted in cooperation with Government authorities and departments.