The Last Butterflies
BY NICK HADDAD, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS, £20
Six rare butterflies, each on the brink of extinction – what would be the lasting impact of their disappearance? Probably nothing, except butterflies are relatively well studied and with each loss comes concomitant loss of myriad less-well-known organisms. Butterflies are the lens through which we can appreciate environmental health or degradation. So far, each species has a recovery tale to tell, but fierce habitat management in the face of climate change and urban encroachment takes a steady nerve. Haddad eloquently argues that conserving butterflies is not about preserving an organism or habitat in aspic – that way lies stagnation and decline – it’s about enabling a dynamic and resilient environment.