Butterflies of Formosa - Butterfly Conservation
The United Nations declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. This is to promote the philosophy that ‘biodiversity’ is life, ‘biodiversity is our life’, and humans and all life on Earth share the same future.

Biodiversity is decreasing rapidly due to human activities, such as destruction of natural habitats, environmental pollution, introduction or intrusion of alien species, and over-hunting. Taiwan, as a butterfly kingdom, is facing a crisis of declining butterfly diversity. The butterfly kingdom needs urgent protection from all of us.

Species Extinction
Species extinction is irreversible. Once a species is gone, we cannot get it back. Among the nearly 400 recorded butterfly species in Taiwan, three are confirmed extinct. More of them are probably extinct or critically endangered because their populations have declined to such a small size that they are not sustainable.

For Taiwan to be successful in achieving its economic growth, Taiwan had to forfit many of its natural assets.

Habitat Loss and Fragmentation
The direct and indirect interference from human activities is a great source of damage to wildlife. The worst sort of damage is losing or fragmenting the habitat. When these interferences happens on a butterfly species with limited distribution or living in special but highly-vulnerable habitats, the butterflies can easily go extinct.

Impact of Alien Species
Alien species can enter a new ecosystem naturally or helped by human activities. Some alien species can make enormous changes to the invaded ecosystem, or threatening crops or human lives. Some, however, quietly adapt to the new environment, coexisting peacefully with other species. Species introduced by humans for specific purposes usually cause unexpected, but serious, damage to the environment. The decision to introduce any alien species should be made very carefully.

Conservation of Butterflies
Conservation involves protection, preservation, and management of habitats and species. At first, conservation emphasized legal protection of specific species. Then, it evolved to preserve important habitats. To ensure an environment is sustained, conservation has recently placed more emphasis on coexistence, the balance between humans and nature, use of scientific research in the regulation of wildlife resources, and local participation of conservation work. In Taiwan, many governmental institutes, schools, and non-governmental organizations have enthusiastically participated in butterfly conservation. This vital participation is an example of Taiwan’s efforts to conserve natural environment.

Live Ecological Teaching Material
Because of economic growth, land development, wage increase, and market decline, the labour-intensive industry of processing massive butterfly specimens was discontinued in Taiwan. Instead, butterfly farms began to take off. These butterfly farms develop techniques for rearing and breeding large numbers of butterflies in captivity. They then supply captive butterflies, hosts, and nectar plants to butterfly houses and ecological gardens internationally. Since people visiting butterfly houses and ecological gardens learn ecological knowledge by observation, these gardens are a way of using butterfly resources to provide education, develop ecotourism, and create business profits without damaging nature.

Butterfly Watching and Ecotourism
In Taiwan, many butterfly-watching activities are held by non -governmental organizations. Observing, understanding, and appreciating butterflies develops the public’s concepts of butterfly conservation.

When the profit created by a resource is shared by most of the people in the community, this resource is more likely to be protected or managed for the common good. When butterflies are incorporated into ecotourism, they bring income to local communities, making these communities more willing to protect butterflies. This is a win-win situation for butterflies, local people, and tourists.

National Museum of Natural Science