The mission of the Swallowtail and Birdwing Butterfly Trust is to conserve and protect members of the Papilionidae, a worldwide family of more than 550 species that include the largest, most spectacular and most endangered butterflies on the planet.
Our work is generally planned and executed in the context of wider butterfly faunas, their foodplants, and the ecosystems that they inhabit.
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.
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 is currently working on the Kinabalu Birdwing in Sabah, supporting local work on Australia’s Richmond Birdwing and on the Homerus swallowtail in Jamaica, and we recently put survey teams into the field in Dominica and Fiji.
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.