ABLE project

Assessing ButterfLies in Europe (ABLE)

Project summary

ABLE is a major new project that will use butterflies to indicate the future health of Europe's environment. The main aim is to create a representative butterfly monitoring network across as many countries as possible in order to improve targeting and efficiency of conservation measures within the European Union. To do this, develop a suite of indicators that can inform EU biodiversity and land use policies, including the Common Agricultural Policy. The data will also be used to help assess the health of Europe's pollinators as part of the EU Pollinator Initiative.

The project will involve thousands of volunteers across Europe who will contribute data in a standardized way into a central database (the European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme - eBMS). It builds on existing Butterfly Monitoring Schemes that are running in twenty countries, but will extend these to other countries that currently do not have schemes. Target countries include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia.

The ABLE project is a partnership between Butterfly Conservation Europe, the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology, the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ, Germany), Dutch Butterfly Conservation and Butterfly Conservation (UK). It is funded by a service contract from the European Union Directorate for the Environment, for an initial period of two years from 2019-20.

Specific tasks

Pieris brassicae
  1. Produce policy-relevant butterfly indicators for a range of habitats, analyse results and disseminate findings to policymakers and the public;
  2. Support and develop a unified, sustainable and cost-effective European butterfly monitoring network based on trained volunteer recorders, supported by new coordinators, together with local access to an on-line data recording system;
  3. Construct a unified, high-quality butterfly database and automated data entry system for the indicators: Key outputs and outcomes



We will continue to work closely with volunteers, partner organisations, land owners and managers, National Park Authorities, EU Institutions and EU Member State Administrations to engender their support for butterfly monitoring. This support, together with tangible infrastructure and support provided through this project, will give a strong signal of the ambitions of the EU and its Member States to develop sustainable butterfly monitoring to deliver key biodiversity indicators.

Main outcomes

  1. New butterfly monitoring schemes, with coordinators and networks of volunteers started in a further 6-8 EU countries where there are no schemes at present;
  2. Some further development of fledgling schemes in 5-7 EU countries to increase their sustainability and encourage their contribution of data to the expanding eBMS database;
  3. Hold a workshop for existing and new eBMS partners to exchange experiences, share learning and encourage ongoing engagement post 2020;
  4. Recruitment and training of more coordinators and volunteers across Europe who are willing to collect butterfly data from the field and report it to the newly developed online database for monitoring data;
  5. Increases in the number of transects walked each year and butterfly records submitted;
  6. Regular feedback to volunteers and recorders in EU Member States to foster continuing commitment;
  7. An expanded and improved centralised eBMS database with greater functionality, including more butterfly records and providing automated methods for calculating a range of butterfly indicators;
  8. Legal data sharing agreements for new eBMS partners, based on those covering existing schemes