The principal mission of the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust is to conserve and protect members of the butterfly family Papilionidae worldwide. These include some of the most spectacular and magnificent of all species, but also some of the most endangered.
The Trust operates by raising funds, convening partnerships, catalysing action and providing technical and scientific support for conservation projects. We are establishing a network of experts, advisors and supporters to extend this work.
Our principal activity is the establishment of a captive breeding and release facility for Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing in Papua New Guinea. Working in close partnership with the oil palm industry and local communities, we aim to ensure a sustainable and secure future for this, the largest butterfly in the world. Details are available in a special publication available here.
Major reference sources that guide the Trust’s work include “Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World” and “Swallowtail Butterflies: An Action Plan for Their Conservation”, both published some years ago by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
These reports found that 61 of more than 550 species of papilionids worldwide are under threat, and many more are insufficiently known and in need of further study.
The Action Plan, prepared by the IUCN Species Survival Commission Lepidoptera Specialist Group and published in 1991, listed 34 potential projects and identified priorities for action. Due to lack of resources, it has been difficult to make concerted progress in the intervening years, but with the creation of the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust, we hope to initiate projects to address the research findings.
The Trust’s first international priority is Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing Butterfly, confined to a small area of northern Papua New Guinea. Our aim is to establish a breeding facility and strengthen the wild populations.
A national priority in the UK is the British Swallowtail, found only in the Norfolk Broads. Salinisation of the Broads due to sea level rise is threatening the few remaining habitats of this subspecies, and plans need to be laid to introduce new populations to safer sites protected from the ingress of salt water.
The Trust was registered as a not-for-profit charity in England on 4 August 2017. It is run by a small group of volunteer Trustees and Advisors and has no staff or premises at the moment.