The butterfly farming and trading industry in the Indo-Australian region and its role in tropical forest conservation.


  • M. J. Parsons


Argema, Aristolochiaceae, Atrophaneura, Australia, Bhutanitis, birdwings, China, collecting controversy, Coscinocera, economics, government policies, Graphium, Hong Kong, Idea, India, Indonesia, Insect Farming and Trading Agency, Japan, Korea, Lasiocampidae, legislation, Malaysia, Nymphalidae, Ornithoptera, Papilio, Papilionidae, Papua New Guinea, Parnassius, Saturniidae, Solomons, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Trogonoptera, Troides, Vietnam, World Wide Fund for Nature


The events in the establishment of the concepts and principles of butterfly farming in the Indo-Australian Region are chronicled. The question is posed as to whether harnessing the wealth provided by the tropical butterfly trade in this way can be truely effective in tropical forest protection. Topics such as ill-conceived legislation affecting the international butterfly trade, and the controversy concerning overcollecting, are discussed. It is shown that by using certain now well-tested methods, and if properly implemented under government supervision, the system can indeed be very beneficial in conservation of tropical forests. Coupled with appropriate legislative restrictions to cut out middle-men, it can be very effective in utilising this highly sustainable resource and directing the valuable funds it provides back into habitat protection. It is argued that the butterfly farming system can provide rural economies with much needed income which reduces the financial need for peoples living in or adjacent to tropical forests to non-sustainably exploit them. Thus it directly promotes forest conservation, as well as indirectly through its associated educational attributes. Based on the author's extensive field experience, and a number of problems that have been experienced in project startup in various countries in the past, particularly through lack of funding, it is concluded that regional butterfly farming projects could be far more effectively achieved if established through a dedicated umbrella organisation. This would be best set up and coordinated within an already existing international conservation body.