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 Today its range has been retracted to a few main fragments centred around the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and northern New South Wales hinterlands.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

The critically endangered Central Rock-rat (Zyzomys pedunculatus). Photo: Michael Barritt & Karen May (used under Creative Commons license: CC BY-SA 2.0)

05/04/2024 05/04/2024

Conservationists and landholders unite to protect critically endangered Central Rock-rat

The critically endangered Central Rock-rat has been sighted on Hewitt’s Narwietooma property following ecological surveys conducted in partnership with Bush Heritage Australia.

Read More
Woodland bird. Bush Broadcast.


Webinar: Nardoo Hills turns 20

Victoria has cleared over 80% of its woodlands. In the face of that destruction, 20 years ago Bush Heritage managed to secure critical patches of temperate woodlands within Nardoo Hills, which have been cared for ever since. It’s a beautiful milestone and a cause for celebration.

Read More
A Brushtail Possum at Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, Badimia Country, WA. Photo: Brad Leue

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Possum party

Four hours north-east of Perth, the sight of a Brushtail Possum is one for celebration. It was recorded on a motion-sensor camera, and has been on a very special journey.

Read More
Fire on Yourka Reserve, Jirrbal and Warrungu Country, QLD. Photo: Alistair Hartley

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Team spark

Teamwork, firebreaks and prescribed burning protects Yourka Reserve.

Read More
Cumberland River and cliffs on Gadubanud Country, VIC. Photo: Luke Nagle

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

My happy place

CEO Rachel Lowry revels in the rolling waves, golden sandstone cliffs, and the dark green of thick gum forest of her happy place.

Read More
Ecologist Dr Donna Belder bird monitoring on Scottsdale Reserve, Ngambri and Ngarigo Country, NSW. Photo: Tad Souden

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Birdy barometer

One in four woodland-dependant birds are listed as threatened, and their populations are declining. Monitoring sheds light on how we can protect them.

Read More
'The Painted Desert' on Evelyn Downs is located on Yankunytjatjara and Antarkirinja Matu-Yankunytjatjara  Country, SA. Photo: Annette Ruzicka

BUSHTRACKS 25/03/2024

Protecting a painted beauty

Many paint our arid regions with a broad stroke and by doing so, obscure their vital intricacies. Thanks to our generous supporters, we can appreciate the diverse desert landscape of Evelyn Downs – our largest-ever reserve and newest acquisition.

Read More
Patersonia fragilis 'fairy rings' at Friendly Beaches Reserve, Tasmania. By Mike Bretz.

21/12/2023 21/12/2023

Peculiar Patersonia patterns

High above the 121-hectare reserve, they made a curious discovery. From the controller’s tiny screen, they spotted a strange circular pattern in the vegetation. Then another, and another.

Read More
Tree in arid landscape.


Evelyn Downs webinar

In-depth discussion of our campaign to buy Evelyn Downs in South Australia's Painted Desert. This spectacular property will provide habitat for over 60 species of conservation significance.

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