Butterfly Sanctuary

Pollinators Summer 2020The Pinhey Sand Dunes (PSD) Restoration by Biodiversity Conservancy International (BCI) in collaboration with the National Capital Commission has reached its 8th year. Three sites (Dunes 1-3) have been restored from densely planted wooded areas to their natural dune state. In addition, another significant forested area in the hydro corridor adjacent to Dunes 3 has been cleared by Hydro Ottawa in April 2019. At the request of Hydro Ottawa, BCI will maintain this area (Dunes 4) as a treeless habitat consisting of dune, meadow and wetland (see map).

The four dune sites totaling ~30,000 m2, which have been successfully restored, are part of the on-going progress of the initial BCI dune habitat and ecosystem restoration objectives.  

Sparse, low bush vegetation in a treeless dune habitat not only provides essential shelter for dune-dwelling organisms from the harsh dune environment but also offers excellent hunting and foraging grounds for a variety of sun-loving non-dune insects, particularly butterflies, dragonflies, flies, bees, wasps, and beetles … On the basis of this fact, BCI has decided to undertake a supplementing task to create a sanctuary for non dune insects, particularly butterflies, tentatively named as the Pinhey Sand Dunes Butterfly Sanctuary.   

The process of building the PSD Butterfly Sanctuary includes: (1) Planting selected butterfly host and nectar plants to facilitate population establishment of a great variety of butterfly species, particularly specific food plants for butterflies such as Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis [Fabaceae]) for the extirpated dune-dwelling Karner Blue Butterfly (Lycaeides melissa [Lycaenidae]); Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca and A. tuberosa (Asclepiadaceae)) for the Monarch Butterfly; (2) strategic plan for reintroducing the extirpated Karner Blue Butterfly and  taking necessary measures to augment population density of the Monarch Butterfly;  (3) Encouraging public participation in the development and long term maintenance of the Butterfly Sanctuary; and (4) Monitoring the appearance of butterfly species in the sanctuary.

The Butterfly Sanctuary at the Pinhey Sand Dunes (PSD) is expected to have the following benefits:

– Establish a nature reserve for a variety of species of insects, spiders and butterflies in Canada’s capital.

– Enhance wild life and natural habitat conservation

– Enhance ecosystem services, particularly pollination.

– Enrich biodiversity in the National Capital Greenbelt.

– Provide education and scientific research opportunities.

– Motivate public interest, participation and support of long term maintenance of the restored PSD habitat.

Butterfly Sanctuary in the making

A chrysalis attached to the underside of a Milkweed leaf.


A Monarch chrysalis attached to the underside of a Milkweed leaf at Pinhey Sand Dunes 2 (Photo Olivia Leon 2020).

  • Re-population of Nectar Plants for Butterflies
  • Re-population of Pollinator Plants for Bees, Wasps and other Flying Insects
  • Re-introduction of Butterflies
  • Introduction of Extirpated Butterflies


Video of Pollinators and Butterflies Visiting the Sanctuary Summer 2020