Webquest: Mununja the Butterfly

Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Evaluation | Conclusion


Let's have a story to begin your quest.

Mununja the Butterfly is the story of a young Aboriginal girl who was changed into a butterfly so that she could avoid marrying the evil Gunga. He possessed great powers and would always prevent her from marrying the boy she loved. With the help of Narja, the good spirit butterfly, Mununja was able to remain near her family and her country forever, as a beautiful butterfly.

Set on the banks of the Burrinjuck River, the characters and scene celebrate the diversity of plant and animal species in the environment before non-indigenous people settled there. The story of Mununja (and other plant and animal species of the region) has been told for generations and will probably be told for many more.

Maybe your school or local community library has a copy of the book so that you can read the whole story and enjoy the illustrations too.

Here's the reference details:

Bell, Don (n.d.) Mununja the Butterfly: a Ngunawal Aboriginal story. Gundaroo: Brolga Press.


There may be a threat to Mununja and her environment

Your main question:
What are the threats of ecotourism to our native plants and animals?


Group task and individual roles

A landowner on a local river catchment Burrinjuck River wants to develop an ecotourism venture adjacent to a National Park. The idea centres on 4WD tours through the bushland for people to appreciate the wilderness values of the area. The landowner believes a successful venture will provide many benefits for the community such as:

There are people in your community who do not agree and there will be an opportunity at a public meeting to put forward different views. In preparation for that meeting you and other members of your group will prepare information according to the role you have taken. The individual roles are:

By following through the links for your role, you can gather information on the different issues that need to be thought about before you make up your mind. As a group you have to decide whether you are for or against the development, so that your community's views can be best represented.
Remember, there is no right or wrong answer here.

The farmer will explain some of the Landcare Group's initiatives and whether the proposed development supports them.

The ranger will explain the biodiversity of the area and the habitats of different species and the threats to their continued existence.

The entomologist will highlight the role of butterflies.

The Aboriginal community spokesperson will describe the local community's cultural connection to the land in this area.


Your work has 6 parts. Your teacher needs to check each part before you begin the next.

  1. Research background topics from 'Resources' below, to answer set questions.
  2. Choose a role and follow the links to answer the questions and build up your profile.
  3. Bring your information together in a table or spreadsheet:

  Farmer Aboriginal Community member Ranger Entomologist Common ground
I can protect biodiversity by .          
Conservation is important because          
Threats of ecotourism          

  1. What are your conclusions? Is there any common ground?
  2. In a group, workshop your group's view on the ecotourism development.
  3. Prepare a presentation of your group's views in an appropriate form, such as Powerpoint presentation, poster, debate, role-play skit, speech.
  4. Present your work to the class.
  5. Evaluation


Everyone start by getting some background basics:

1.What is biodiversity and why is it important?

2. Conservation means a careful preservation and protection of something; especially the planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.
What are some key issues of biodiversity and conservation?


Since settlement by non-indigenous people the land has been cleared extensively in the areas of the region that are most suitable for farming crops and grazing animals. This has led to the loss of a great number of plant and animal species as well as erosion of soils and change in ecosystems generally. Many farmers are now keen to arrest this imbalance and adopt strategies which do not irreparably change the environment.

1. What are some possible threats of clearing to water and soil?

2. What is the Landcare and how can it help?

3. How can landowners help maintain biodiversity?


National parks have a plan of management that is aimed to conserve and protect the plants and animals and ecosystems generally within their area while still allowing public access for low-impact recreational pursuits. Areas of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultural significance are conserved. Parks often are used for different purposes such as camping, skiing, canoeing bushwalking, cycling and horseriding.

1. Are there any threatened species in the ACT region?
Explain what threatened means and list 3 threatened or endangered plants and animals.

2. What are the main threats to plants and animals?

3. Explain some risks for plants and animals caused by visitors in national parks?


Aboriginal Community spokesperson
Aboriginal people have a strong cultural connection to the land although they may not be living in traditional ways and relying directly on natural resources for their survival.

1. Describe Aboriginal peoples' relationships to land?

2. How do Aboriginal people manage their land? (Scroll down to the Introduction and further.)

3. List some ways in which Indigenous land values are respected in national parks.

4. Now you can list possible threats to Aboriginal land management posed by ecotourism.


You need to know about insects, such as butterflies and their importance in the environment.

1. Research the names of some butterfly species (6) in the ACT region listing their habitat (where they live) and their foods.
Images of local butterflies (Painted Lady and Brown Butterflies) will add colour to your presentation!

2. Describe the dependent relationship between butterflies and their food plants?

3. What are the main threats to butterflies which could be posed by ecotourism?
» More threats.


You will be evaluated by your teacher according to the following criteria:

Scores 1-4 Beginning
Working together        
Written work        

Have a go at rating yourselves both individually and as a group!


Now that each of you has become an expert, what is your group's conclusion concerning the ecotourism development presented in the scenario?

This webquest is loosely based on a model developed by Tom March, 1998.


« Return


ANBG Home | Copyright Statement