Managing ECB populations

Recommended managment actions at each ECB population varies depending on what the local threats are. Currently there is no national recovery plan for this species. The most comprehensive management advice is summarised below from Patrick Vaughan (1988).

The ultimate objective of management is to ensure the continued survival of the Eltham copper butterfly. At this stage management guidelines are constrained by: insufficient information on the butterfly, its life history, the distribution and ecology;

  • Attempts should be made to protect all known populations by appropriate management of their habitat, this is desirable to ensure backup supplies in case the loss of any colonies from unforeseen causes, and also to maintain maximum genetic variability across the range of the butterfly (Vaughan, 1988).
  • Sites on public land should be reserved in managed for their floral and fauna value ,with other usage restricted to passive recreation and education.  Public access to the site is regarded as desirable both for its therapeutic benefit and to increase the public’s appreciation of natural areas.  Only if such access proves delete deleterious to the butterflies should restrictions on entry be considered.
  • Where colonies occur on private land, the owners should be requested to cooperate with the appropriate management of this site and should be given all the advice and assistance necessary to achieve this.  They should be formally requested to join the land for wildlife programme and TFN covenant process.
  • if loss of any particular colony cannot be avoided all butterflies and larvae should be transferred to other colonies or new suitable sites.
  • Each of the sites where the butterfly occurs should be protected from the threatening factors and management recommendations for each side should be implemented.
  • If populations at any site are seems to be declining to abnormally low levels, adult butterflies of both sexes should be introduced from other well populated sites in an attempt to enhance genetic variability and avoid population collapse
  • Expansion of the habitat of the butterfly should be encouraged by:
    •  altering current management practises such as slashing so that natural regeneration of Sweet Bursaria can occur.
    •  planting of Sweet Bursaria propagated from seed or cuttings collected on site;
    • attempting transplants of appropriate Sweet Buraria from sites which will be destroyed by development
    • at sites where the taller form Bursaria occurs, a small proportion could be slashed in an attempt to artificially produce the dwarf form required for the butterfly
  • The integrity of the indigenous communities in which the butterfly colonies are found must be maintained and improved. 
    • The nests of feral honey bees and the European voice must be eradicated wherever they are encountered
    • weed species (especially Broom, Boneseed, Gorse and Hawthorne) should be removed and replaced by the planting or natural regeneration of appropriate indigenous native species.
    • Planting at each site should utilise plants propagated from seeds and cuttings taken from that site
    • Photographs taken at regular intervals, froms permanent reference points, could be used to review changes to the sites over time.
    • Residents and Council should be encouraged to plant indigenous native plants including Bursaria spinosa to reduce the danger of weed invasion and possibly to create habitat suitable for the butterfly and other native species.
  •  A management committee should be established comprising representative of councils, entomologist, botanist and representatives of the local community to oversee management.
  • A ranger should be appointed to implement management in the field.
  • A public education program
  • Information should be provided to the local field naturalists and Victorian entomological society along with a request that they look out for the butterfly when on field trips.  Given the difficulty of locating colonies, future searches should be incidental to other studies.
  • Ongoing research on the butterfly, its taxonomy, life history, ecology and distribution should be carried out ,to allow for more informed conservation methods to be utilised. A scholarship could be offered to postgraduate study of the butterfly. The vital information made available by such a study would be excellent return for money outlayed as a scholarship.
  • Pesticides and herbicides must not be sprayed or applied to the vegetation in the vicinity of colonies
  • All management practices should be monitored for their effects on the colonies and be revised where necessary
  • Captive breeding
  • A trial burn should be conducted at least on one minor side to assess response of the colony to fire. it is not known if colonies can survive fire in their dry fire prone habitat.  They may have to re colonise from elsewhere.  This will be determined before fire is used a tool in maintaining the suitability of habitat and controlling particular weeds for fire prevention purposes.