LIFE Project Cover Photo

Conservation of Parnassius apollo in Poland, Czechia and Austria

Reference: LIFE20 NAT/PL/000151 | Acronym: LIFE Apollo2020



The European Red List of Butterflies shows negative trends for over 30% of European taxa. One of the most threatened butterflies in Europe is the Apollo butterfly, Parnassius apollo (hereafter P. apollo), which is "vulnerable" and SPEC3 in Europe. Its numbers have decreased during the last 25 years by 20-50%. As a result, P. apollo was the first insect to be included on the CITES list. The species has also been included in Annex IV of the EU Habitats Directive, in Annex II of the Bern Convention, and in the Red Book of Animals in Poland as ‘critically endangered’, in Czechia as ‘extinct’, and in Austria as ‘near threatened’. Also, according to Habitats Directive Article 17 reports for the Continental bioregion, its condition is assessed as U2 (unfavourable - bad) for Czechia and Austria. In these countries, the population is obsolete (virtually extinct), occurring only in small, isolated populations of less than 100 specimens, which is not enough to sustain the population. In Poland, the FV (favourable) status in the Alpine bioregion is due to the success of restoring and stabilising a single population in the Pieniny Mountains. In the Polish part of the Continental bioregion, the species has become extinct and work is currently underway to reintroduce the population in the Sudety Mountains. The most important reason for the species’ decline is habitat loss and fragmentation due to: (1) changes in the use of agricultural areas, (2) drainage of wetlands, (3) invasion of alien plant species, and (4) expansion of urbanised areas, roads and recreation infrastructure. P. apollo acts as an umbrella species, for protecting biodiversity at ecosystem level and in habitat mosaics. However, conservation of ecological corridors conflicts with urban planning. In Czechia, attempts to re-establish the population were made at the beginning of the 20th Century; but now the Moravian population is on the verge of extinction, and no local breeding farms exist. In Austria breeding material exists for all P. apollo subspecies.



The main objective of the LIFE Apollo2020 project is to recreate the Apollo butterfly (Parnassius apollo) populations in the Sudetes and White Carpathians in the Continental bioregion, and to strengthen the Austrian Alps population in the Alpine bioregion. During the project, 3 additional breeding farms and 3 new functional sites will be created to anchor the populations under natural conditions, as well as at least 38 "stepping stone” sites to secure species migration corridors between the new sites. The project is the first to implement pilot actions for further population development in the two bioregions.

Specific objectives are to:

1) Improve protection of Apollo butterfly breeding habitats and feeding grounds (i.e. to recreate and/or maintain a ‘good condition’ conservation status in habitat mosaics, favourable for the future metapopulation of the species in the three countries: Poland, Czechia and Austria);

2) Establish a coherent species conservation approach at the Continental bioregion level;

3) Increase awareness and social commitment to the conservation and maintenance of species’ habitats (i.e. creating secondary stepping stones, so-called “Gardens for Apollo”, by organising public activities to address the importance of landscape continuity).

The project contributes to the implementation of the EU Habitats Directive, and international conservation programmes for the Apollo butterfly.


Expected results:

  • Recreation of populations in Poland and Czechia in the Continental bioregion, and strengthening of the Austrian population in the Alpine bioregion, by continuation of breeding in KPN and Austria and establishing 3 new breeding points (1 in Poland and 2 in Czechia), and through a genetic survey of Parnassius apollo populations;
  • Protection of breeding habitats and feeding grounds by preparing habitats (252 ha) and establishing a network of “stepping stones”, with the aim of creating strong and resilient functional areas in Sudetes, the White Carpathians and the Austrian Alps, connecting breeding (xerothermic sites with host plants) and feeding (fresh/semi-wet meadows with nectariferous plants) grounds, and creating a network of migration corridors; 
  • Reintroduction of the species into restored and newly prepared habitats. In total, up to ca. 1 000 individuals/year released into natural habitats in 5 sites in Sudetes, 8 sites in the White Carpathians, and up to 5 sites in the Austrian Alps. The reintroduction material will come from existing farms or natural populations;
  • Creation of a coherent species conservation approach on a Continental bioregion level. Providing EU Member State authorities with realistic data for Habitats Directive Article 17 reporting on P. apollo from the Polish Continental bioregions. Initiating a species data exchange platform. Elaboration of a “Breeding and Conservation Manual” based on the findings of an expert working group and relevant stakeholders;
  • Raising awareness and social commitment to the conservation and maintenance of habitats by creating the “Land of Apollo”, which is an area connecting reintroduction/breeding sites in Poland and the “Gardens for Apollo”. Communication and dissemination for optimal outreach and effective transferability after the project.



Reference: LIFE20 NAT/PL/000151
Acronym: LIFE Apollo2020
Start Date: 01/09/2021
End Date: 31/03/2028
Total Eligible Budget: 4,828,915 €
EU Contribution: 2,897,324 €
Project Location:


Coordinating Beneficiary: Karkonoski Park Narodowy z siedzibą w Jeleniej Górze
Legal Status: PAT
Address: Chałubińskiego 23, 58-570, Jelenia Góra, Poland Polska
Contact Person: Magdalena Makowska
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website

LIFE Project Map



  • Heath and Scrublands
  • Sensitive and protected areas management
  • Green infrastructure
  • Ecological coherence
  • High Nature Value farmland
  • Grasslands


  • heathland
  • sensitive area
  • endangered species
  • grassland ecosystem


  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)


  • 6510 - "Lowland hay meadows (Alopecurus pratensis, Sanguisorba officinalis)"
  • 6430 - Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
  • 6230 - "Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)"
  • 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
  • 6110 - Rupicolous calcareous or basophilic grasslands of the Alysso-Sedion albi
  • 8230 - Siliceous rock with pioneer vegetation of the Sedo-Scleranthion or of the Sedo albi-Veronicion dillenii
  • 8220 - Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation
  • 8160 - Medio-European calcareous scree of hill and montane levels
  • 8150 - Medio-European upland siliceous screes
  • 6520 - Mountain hay meadows


  • Lopinga achine
  • Euplagia quadripunctaria
  • Phengaris arion
  • Parnassius apollo


Type Code Name
SCI CZ0722199 Hrušová dolina
SCI CZ0720441 Bílé potoky
SCI CZ0720435 Podkrálovec
SPA AT1205000 Wachau - Jauerling
SPA AT1203000 Ötscher - Dürrenstein
SPA AT3301000 Hohe Tauern, Tirol
SCI AT3206007 Bluntautal
SCI AT3211012 Kalkhochalpen, Salzburg
SCI AT1205A00 Wachau
SCI AT1203A00 Ötscher - Dürrenstein
SPA CZ0521009 Krkonoše
SPA PLB020010 Sudety Wałbrzysko-Kamiennogórskie
SCI CZ0524044 Krkonoše
SCI PLH020044 Stawy Sobieszowskie
SCI PLH020038 Góry Kamienne
SPA PLB020007 Karkonosze (DEPRECATED)
SCI CZ0720437 Valentová
SCI CZ0720428 Na Koncoch
SCI CZ0724090 Bílé Karpaty
SCI CZ0724430 Vlárský průsmyk
SCI CZ0722198 Hodňovská dolina
SCI CZ0723434 Vlára
SPA AT3402000 Rheindelta
SPA AT2120000 Schütt - Graschelitzen
SPA AT2112000 Villacher Alpe (Dobratsch)


Name Type
Narodowy z siedzibą w Jeleniej Coordinator
EWS(European Wilderness Society, Verein zum Schutz der Europäischen Wildnis), Austria Participant
ČSOP(Český svaz ochránců přírody), Czech Republic Participant
VIS(VZDĚLÁVACÍ A INFORMAČNÍ STŘEDISKO Bílé Karpaty, o.p.s. / Education and information centre Bílé Karpaty), Czech Republic Participant
KP(Klub Przyrodników), Poland Participant
IB PAN(W. Szafer Institute of Botany of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IB PAN)), Poland Participant