The only Dutch habitat for the rare dusky large blue butterfly has been accidentally destroyed by the Limburg water board when it mowed a field in the village of Posterholt near the German border.
Butterfly protection group the Vlinderstichting has made an official complaint about the mowing operation and has launched an emergency operation to replace the great burnet plants in the hope that some of the endangered butterflies return.
A spokesman for the Vlinderstichting told DutchNews.nl that they have had contact with Waterschap Limburg, which has admitted its mistake and is reportedly working on reducing the impact.
‘We don’t know if there are any survivors, but we are hard at work seeing if we can get plants from elsewhere,’ said Kars Veling. ‘It’s a great pleasure to have butterflies but they are also an important part of the food chain and many birds depend on the caterpillars. Every sort of butterfly found in the Netherlands should stay here, whether they are useful to us or not – that’s the right of every butterfly, and that’s what we fight for.’
According to the association, the Dutch butterfly population has been reduced by around 40% since volunteers started counting the insects in 1990. ‘The Netherlands is a small country, intensively used and built on, and they are also negatively affected by pollution,’ said Veling. ‘We don’t know if all of the dusky large blue butterflies have gone – or if there will be any there next year.’
Limburg water board said in a statement on social media: ‘We recognise that we made a mistake and moved an area where there are protected flora and fauna. Together with the contractor, we will investigate the cause and its impact. We believe flora and fauna are very important and have based our mowing policy on this.’
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