The Efforts to Save a Butterfly | Tomorrow Today - The Science Magazine | DW | 23.09.2013
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Tomorrow Today

The Efforts to Save a Butterfly

Why does it make sense to go to such efforts to save a butterfly? That's a question we’ll put to Dr. Matthias Glaubrecht from Berlin's Natural History Museum.

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DW: To talk more about species dying out and what we need to do to preserve them, I'm joined now in the studio by Dr. Matthias Glaubrecht from Berlin's Natural History Museum. Thank you so much for joining us.
Now why is it so important to protect this butterfly in particular from extinction?

Matthias Glaubrecht: Well we don't know actually for what we can use some of those species. But what we do know is that some of them actually have something where we can make use - like apothecary applications, or where we need them as a member of an ecological framework and we shouldn't lose those members of the framework.

So we're doing it to be safe rather than to be sorry. Do you think that this project is somewhat over-ambitious? Can we actually take this butterfly off the endangered list?

Only if we try will we succeed. So we should on a local scale help them and we should also focus on a global scale and protect as many species as we can.

How many plants and species around the world are endangered?

Well we don't know exactly the numbers but in an official list we are ending up with about 70 thousand species right now and we're still counting.

Right that's colossal. Why, what's the root cause of all these animals and plants dying out right now?

Well the main reason is that we're destroying their natural environments, so we're destroying the tropical rain forests and we're polluting the sea and we're also not very careful with our fresh-water resources. And that's where all these species are living.

So we want to counteract that, but apart from throwing lots and lots of money at the situation what other steps can we take to improve the situation?

Well the first thing is that we need to become more aware of that being a problem. Everyone is talking about climate change and how we can counteract that and I think the awareness is there. We also need to become more aware about our natural treasures, which is biodiversity.

What factors go into deciding what species we should protect?

Well it's very hard to say since we don't know all the different species. We should definitely protect larger areas because if we protect areas with key species we're sure that we also protect a couple of other species that we desperately need.

When a species actually dies out what happens in nature, what is lost?

Well we are losing a member in an ecological framework and the more we lose of those parts and elements of the network the less stable that network will be.

Right now the world is becoming more and more populated, we're fighting climate change, is it possible to keep certain species from extinction in the future?

I think we need to learn that we need to protect islands of natural habitats and we need to somehow line them up or interconnect them, so there is a chance of getting there.

Matthias Glaubrecht, thank you so much for joining us here at Tomorrow Today

(Interview: Anne O´Donnell)