LIFE Metamorphosis

Developing best practices in butterfly conservation in Central and Eastern Europe. The project focuses on the conservation in three Member states (Slovakia, Hungary and Romania) of butterfly species listed in the EU Habitats Directive. In Romania the project will restore the habitats of target species, actively carry out restitution and range expansion of some species, develop cooperation with farmers in target areas, inspire citizen science including with new smartphone applications, and develop a Lepidoptera Records Centre linked to the European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.

Funded by: EU’s LIFE programme
Project Duration : 1 September 2022 - 31 March 2029 (6+ years)
Budget for Romania: 731.786 Euro

Project Objectives


The Metamorphosis project focuses on the conservation in three Member states (Slovakia, Hungary and Romania) of butterfly species listed in Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive. In Romania the 15 targeted species are: Colias myrmidone, Callimorpha quadripunctaria, Euphydryas aurinia, E. maturna, Eriogaster catax, Lopinga achine, Lycaena dispar, L. helle, Phengaris (Maculinea) arion, P. nausithous, P. teleius, Parnassius mnemosyne, P. apollo, Pseudophylotes bavius, Zerynthia polyxena.

The project will also target restoration of habitat type 6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (*important orchid sites in many SCIs targeted) that are also home to many target species of the project (Colias myrmidone, Phengaris species, Parnassius apollo), as well as other important pollinators (such as wild bees, wasps, hoverflies, bee-flies, moths).

Colias myrmidone is a special focus of the project in central Romania, one of the last strongholds of this species whose population is rapidly declining across central Europe.

The project will carry out best practices in habitat management, and concrete restoration activities directly targeting populations of these species. It will bring nature back to agricultural land and improve high biodiversity features. It contributes to halting pollinator decline and improving connectivity of the network of protected areas. Farmers and other stakeholders will be included into decision processes, direct restoration and management of habitats, to ensure sustainability of results.

Conservation of these landscapes will be carried out using a holistic approach, by preserving the whole assemblage of landscape elements (grassland, scrub, forest, water bodies, trees and tree lines). This applies especially where butterfly species with different management requirements co-exist in an agricultural landscape: maintenance of mosaic management and connectivity is required.

The project recognises and will harness the vital role of local communities, as the mosaic management and sympathetic husbandry carried out by small-scale farmers provides the complex and heterogeneous management required.

The project will promote citizen science in monitoring, and bottom-up approach to designation of protected areas, measuring and integrating the value of nature in project areas, and will also transfer the knowledge (including for policy makers) and replicate results to other areas of occurrence of these species.

The project will integrate Slovakia and Romania in the European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme.



The 9 SCIs in which the project will carry out actions in Romania.


This project will work on several levels to reduce the loss of grassland and forest-edge butterflies and the loss of the habitats on which they depend:

  • Develop detailed maps and inventories that will allow conservationists and local land users to understand and value biodiversity, and understand the links between land management, biodiversity and community prosperity.
  • Help local land management decisions, and local and regional policymaking by increasing the level of appreciation by local farmers/land managers of the fact that a higher biodiversity of the landscapes offers a ‘unique selling point’ for products and services, and that without the biodiversity, farming communities would be poorer, agriculture would be intensified to compete with industrial models elsewhere in Europe, farms would grow in size and fewer people would drive an income.
  • Identify and reverse the causes that lead to the loss of species, allowing them to recover.
  • Promote a better understanding of how Central and East European trends fit in to the pan-European picture, facilitating combined approaches to stop negative trends, by creating links with the European Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (eBMS).
  • Promote collection and use (including for policy-making) of biodiversity data by creating links with the Lepidoptera Records Centre that is to be established under the project in Romania, and which will be a lasting legacy. The Lepidoptera Records Centre in Romania will promote citizen science, validate citizen science data, incorporate with expert data, and act as a data repository and analysis centre serving land managers and policy makers at local and regional, as well as feeding data to eBMS.
  • Develop citizen science monitoring, involving farmers and visitors in data recording in order to reinforce local interest and understanding.
  • Develop an innovative and authorised biodiversity credits scheme, showing how butterflies can be as one of the indicators. This will encourage development of a full scheme at a later date, under which tradeable credits can be sold so rewarding local farming communities to manage their landscape sustainably.
  • In priority areas identified by mapping, carry out practical restoration of at least 200ha of grassland, forest edges and scrub habitats in 9 SCIs in Romania, e.g. by restoring meadow management, improving grazing management, and protecting key sites from overexploitation.
  • Work with the communities, by developing with them local management plans to agree a shared vision for the future of their landscapes, and to plan rewards/local benefits for good management. Communities will benefit from participation by capacity building and trust-building in their farmer associations, better advice on access to current a-e schemes and on good management to avoid penalties. The local management plans will also offer selected farmers access to small pilot a-e measures and compensations. These local management plans will remain beneficial to farmers, and so will assist effective future good management of the landscape mosaic.
  • Develop Land Stewardship Agreements with individual farmers or farmer groups/associations.



Map showing actions to be carried out in Sighisoara-Târnava Mare SCI


  • Restoration management of butterfly habitats in 9 SCIs, 500 ha.
  • At least two populations each of two species restituted in localities where they were historically, but are now locally are extinct, by translocations: Lycaena helle, Phengaris (Maculinea) teleius.
  • Range expansion/translocation of Pseudophylotes bavius, where the suitable habitat exists but there are no historical records that it has ever been present in the area.
  • Occurrence of targeted populations mapped with emphasis on searching for possible populations of Colias myrmidone.
  • Long-term management of habitats and sustainable use of their services ensured in cooperation with local stakeholders through at least 2 agri-environmental schemes, Land Stewardship Agreements.
  • Development begun of an innovative Biodiversity credits scheme, including using butterfly species.
  • Awareness of stakeholders and public increased regarding target species, conservation measures and their importance, by using citizen science projects on mapping butterflies and by dissemination activities (schools, film, volunteer events, guided tours, information panels).
  • Best practices in conservation of butterflies replicated with stakeholders in localities not targeted by the project.
  • Knowledge, know-how of the project spread in different localities, regions and EU states with target species occurrence participating at least on events, conferences and networking visits.
  • Lepidoptera Records Centre established bringing together historic and current expert data, and validated citizen science data, acting as an open source for scientists, land managers and policy makers.
  • Links developed to the European Biodiversity Monitoring Scheme (eBMS).
Zerinthia polyxena
Lycaena helle
Lycaena dispar
Euphydryas aurinia
Photos above © László Rákosy
Colias myrmidone
Photo © Ábrahám Imre

Project Updates

The kick-off meeting to plan Romanian activities was held 2-3 November in the Fagetul Clujului – Valea Morii SCI near Cluj, one of the target SCIs of the project.


Lycaena helle
Photo credits Laszlo Rakosy 

Managing Body & Contact

Cristi Gherghiceanu

Executive President - Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Razvan Popa

Technical Director - Fundatia ADEPT Transilvania

Tel: 0044 (0) 752 264 592

The Metamorphosis project has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union


Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or CINEA. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Our Partners

Biodiversity conservation and community development in Transylvania