European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (eBMS): network development. Technical report
1. The ABLE EU Pilot Project was initiated in 2018 to collate butterfly monitoring data across Europe, to facilitate the start of new schemes in the EU, and to develop indicators to help policy evaluation. This report summarises the work on developing the monitoring network (Task 2). 2. There are some 451 butterfly species occurring in the Member States of the EU(27), breeding in a wide range of habitats. Butterflies react quickly to change and are considered to be good biological indicators, especially other insects and pollinators. Monitoring butterflies can help shed light on changes in these important groups. 3. Standard methods of monitoring butterflies are well established, based on fixed routes (transects), which allow citizen scientists to estimate the relative abundance of butterflies. 4. Prior to ABLE, several countries contributed butterfly monitoring data to the European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (eBMS), but they were concentrated in central and western Europe. Large parts of southern and eastern Europe had no regular scheme. Three groups were prioritised for action: six to eight EU countries which had a good probability of establishing a scheme; recently started schemes that required further support; and countries where longer term activities were needed to develop monitoring. 5. As a result of the two-year project, ten EU(27) countries have started new citizen Science Butterfly Monitoring Schemes - Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Austria, Cyprus in 2019 and Poland, Bulgaria, Malta, Czech and Croatia in 2020; seven of these have joined the eBMS data network. Further details are in Annex 2. 6. A suite of support materials has been produced, including a Butterfly Transect Manual, which has been translated into six languages and a series of regional butterfly identification guides. Videos have been made explaining how to count butterflies on a transect and PowerPoint presentations have been made available in several languages. 7. More than 20 workshops and training seminars were held in ten different countries involving more than 750 people. During the Covid pandemic, these were held online. 8. To help monitor rare butterflies and those that occur in remote areas, a new ButterflyCount app was developed, based on standard 15-min counts. The app has an identification guide and lists of butterflies customised to each country to facilitate recording. This data will be assimilated into the eBMS to help extend coverage and make a more representative scheme. 9. Butterfly monitoring was promoted via social media as well as by articles in magazines and in EU level meetings. The eBMS website was used to host all materials and reports. A meeting was held of all coordinators in late 2019, attended by 59 people from 29 countries. A technical workshop was held online in March 2020, attended by 35 people, with a final meeting in October 2020. 10. Lessons learnt include the value of sharing knowledge from established schemes, ensuring broad involvement of citizens/stakeholders, and promoting the value of a Europe-wide scheme. 11. The eBMS provides an invaluable resource to inform EU policy development and evaluate the effectiveness of measures such as the CAP, Habitats Directive, Natura 2000, and the EU Pollinators Initiative. However, continuing financial support is needed from each Member State to develop capacity in existing schemes and start new schemes in countries which do not have one. This will help make a more complete scheme that accurately represents changes across Europe.
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