IUCN in partnership with Butterfly Conservation UK and Butterfly Conservation NL launches a new project on setting up a European Red List of Moths - IUCN

Moths are biologically diverse group and as such form a significant part of Europe’s fauna. They are found along shorelines and on mountaintops, and from the Mediterranean to the sub-Arctic regions contributing to key ecosystem services, such as plant pollination (Macgregor and Scott-Brown 2020) and nutrient recycling. As a group, moths are often extremely specialised organisms, that sometimes rely on single food plants. Moths are also sensitive to the availability of certain habitat structures and specific regional climates.

Population declines in moths have been identified in various European countries, and in some cases quantified. For example, Valtonen et al. (2017) identified a dramatic rate of species loss and a homogenisation of community compositions in Hungary. Antäo et al. (2020) reported that in Finland moth abundance had declined although species richness had increased. In the UK, Bell et al (2020) concluded that moths had declined by 31% over 47 years with significant declines found in a range of habitat types. Many species are likely to be threatened through habitat change (e.g. Baker et al. 2016, Ellis et al. 2012), for example agricultural intensification and abandonment, changing woodland management and urbanisation.

Despite initiatives, information on moth biodiversity that is readily available can be limited in scope and accuracy and is often out of date. However, information about biodiversity is critical to achieve both global and European environmental protection objectives.

At the European level, the EU’s biodiversity strategy for 2030 clearly sets a target to reverse the decline of pollinators across Europe by 2030, through the EU Nature Restoration Plan and the EU Pollinators Initiative. The latter was launched by the European Commission in 2018 to improve the knowledge on wild pollinators, in particular the causes and consequences of their decline in Europe. Moths are part of this group.

More on: