Skip to content

Volunteers create butterfly habitat

Leanne Hales (Volunteer Coordinator North)
Published 07 Jun 2018 by Leanne Hales (Volunteer Coordinator North)

Over two consecutive weekends in May, a small group of dedicated volunteers planted 30 Birdwing butterfly vines (Pararistolochia praevenosa) to improve habitat for the vulnerable Richmond Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia) on Currumbin Reserve in the spectacular Gold Coast Hinterland.

The Richmond Birdwing Butterfly is one of Australia's largest butterflies with a wingspan of up to 16cm in females and 13cm in males.

The vivid, metallic green of the male butterfly's hind wings are an unmistakable highlight in subtropical rainforests where they occur.

Its distribution once extended from Maryborough in southern Queensland to Grafton in New South Wales. Today its range has been retracted to a few main fragments centred around the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and northern New South Wales hinterlands.

Earlier this year we secured a grant to undertake weed control and revegetation to increase available habitat and improve connectivity for the preservation of this stunning species.

Our ecologist, Bek Diete, and Luke Shoo (a rainforest revegetation expert from the University of Queensland) joined forces to devise a planting approach that included an experiment with selective treatment of soil amendments to find the most cost-effective way to establish this plant species in the local area.

Project implementation was left in the capable hands of our Currumbin Reserve volunteer team leader, Michael Uhrig, and old and new members of the local Bush Heritage volunteer community assembled for the planting bees in May.

I was fortunate enough to be part of the second planting team. We were also joined by Dr Ian Gynther – Senior Threatened Species Project Officer with the Department of Environment and Science and representative of the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN). Ian was invited along to talk to the group about the conservation status of the butterfly and share tips, advice and success stories from other RBCN conservation actions in the region. Lucky for us, Ian was quick to grab a crowbar and help us finish off the remaining holes.

Thirty may not sound like many but believe me, when you're digging holes in a rocky, 45-degree slope choked with rainforest tree roots, 30 is a hard-fought battle won!

To our delight, Ian also confirmed that a planting of this size was a significant addition for the species and there's a strong likelihood that butterflies will be using the vines within the next 12 months.

Thanks must go to the Queensland Government’s Nature Refuge Landholder Grant Scheme for supporting the butterfly plantings, to Ian Gynther for his advice and support, Luke Shoo for adding a valuable research component to the project but most of all, to the hard-working volunteers who gave up their Saturday mornings to dig holes on the side of a hill.

Special thanks to Michael who has stepped up as team leader and whose determination, dedication and sense of humour have been the secret to conservation success at Currumbin.

Volunteers Mick, Joanna and others will continue with watering, weed control and monitoring over the coming months and then we look forward to reporting the arrival of mating butterflies next season. Bring on the birdwings!

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Richmond Birdwing Butterfly
Photo courtesy of Graeme Fraser
Planting team 1 (LtoR) Mick Uhrig, Yenda Rolls, Paul Green and Jasmin Bourne Planting team 1 (LtoR) Mick Uhrig, Yenda Rolls, Paul Green and Jasmin Bourne
Planting team 2 (LtoR) Ian Gynther, Dylan Sutton, Mick and Joanna Reid Planting team 2 (LtoR) Ian Gynther, Dylan Sutton, Mick and Joanna Reid
Volunteer Dylan Sutton with Dr Ian Gynther from the Department of Environment and Science and the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network Volunteer Dylan Sutton with Dr Ian Gynther from the Department of Environment and Science and the Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network
In the ground and time for a drink In the ground and time for a drink

Recent stories

Orange bellied Parrot. Photo Bruce Thomson.

07/09/2023 07/09/2023

The threatened species we don’t talk about

Every year on Threatened Species Day, a certain group of animals get a lot of attention. We’re shifting the focus to the lesser knowns. Just as intriguing, but rarely in the headlines.

Read More
Wattle blossoms.

01/09/2023 01/09/2023

National Wattle Day

Wattle is Australia’s national floral emblem and the common name for the genus Acacia. Acacia forest covers a total of 9.8 million hectares and there are over 1200 species of wattles!

Read More
Pilungah Reserve aerial view

22/08/2023 22/08/2023

ABC News: special wildlife reserve application

In a bid to stop mining projects, Wangkamadla traditional owners and Bush Heritage are lodging a special wildlife reserve application with the QLD government.

Read More
Seedlings for revegetation work.

16/08/2023 16/08/2023

An update on Eurardy's 1 million tree project

On Eurardy Reserve, Nanda Country, Western Australia, a project began four years ago to plant one million trees and shrubs. In 2019 we partnered with Carbon Positive Australia, a WA-based charity, to create the largest revegetation project in Bush Heritage's history.

Read More
Stephen Kearney

15/08/2023 15/08/2023

Applying science for conservation

This year’s Science Week theme is ‘Innovation: Powering Future Industries’. We’ve spoken with three early-career scientists and interns at Bush Heritage who are helping to create a better future by applying their scientific knowledge to conservation.

Read More
Ferns and rock orchids

19/07/2023 19/07/2023

First time on Brogo

Brogo Reserve is on Yuin Country – so every visit is an opportunity to get to know the lands and waters that my Ancestors knew like the backs of their hands. I'm based in Sydney - it's hard for me to live so far away from Yuin Country. This is something that Aboriginal people feel deep in their spirit and blood, like something tugging you back in that direction, back where you belong.

Read More
Aunty Lynette Nixon

06/07/2023 06/07/2023

NAIDOC Week 2023: For our Elders

This NAIDOC Week, we were lucky enough to hear directly from Elders themselves, as well as Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people who sent in powerful words from their ancestral homelands. Their wise reflections spoke to this year’s theme ‘For our Elders’, touching on the importance of listening, keeping language alive and how traditional cultural practices and knowledge can help address environmental challenges.

Read More
{{itemsInCart}} Items - {{formatCurrency(grandTotal)}}