THE ENDANGERED MONARCH MIGRATION
Every year, millions of monarchs fly up to 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico to spend the winter roosting in fir trees high up in the mountains. UNESCO has declared this biosphere reserve part of a World Heritage property. But the monarchs’ winter home is at risk: poverty pushes people into illegal logging of the butterfly forest. The monarchs need thick forest cover to protect them. The overwintering monarch population has already decreased by 90% over the last 20 years, making effective forest protection on the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve more crucial than ever.
IS PUT AT RISK BY ILLEGAL LOGGING
The villages around the butterfly sanctuaries are marginalized peasant communities with few sources of income—apart from cutting trees. Logging destroys the distinctive microclimate that attracts the monarchs to these mountains in the first place. But people continue to log because they have no other economic options. Because it’s illegal, loggers are only paid $15-20 USD per tree.
BUT THERE’S A SIMPLE SOLUTION: JOBS
Butterflies & Their People is an Asociación Civil (non-profit organization) located in the village of Macheros in the State of Mexico. Macheros has one of the entries to the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. But once the butterflies leave in the spring, so do the jobs, and villagers turn to illegal logging to get by. Our project gives them an economic alternative: full-time, decently paid work in forest conservation. We employ six forest arborists to patrol Cerro Pelón. The arborists pick up garbage, maintain trails and monitor wildlife. Most importantly, since they started work, clandestine logging of the sanctuary’s core protected area has dropped by 87%. Additionally, the financial fortunes of six local families have improved.
WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS
Our project has:
More than doubled the presence of paid personnel in the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.
Provided six local people with stable, full-time employment as forest guardians.
Trained the guardians to participate in citizen science, including
Monitoring the timing, location and behavior of the monarch colony over the course of the season.
Monitoring the natural regeneration of the forest.
Monitoring monarch nectar sources, predation patterns, as well as documenting other flora and fauna on Cerro Pelon.
Compiling lists of the timing in location of birds, flowers and mushrooms in this unique microclimate.
OUR VISION FOR THE MONARCHS’ FUTURE
Effective forest protection on the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is more crucial than ever. Six workers have already made a difference to the forest; we’ve seen less illegal logging since they started work. 100 trees were taken in the year before they started work. After their first year, the core protected area only lost 19 trees. We need funding to continue our commitment to our current workers and to expand the program so we can get that number down to zero. Funds go directly to pay for the guardians’ salaries, equipment, and training.
Help us keep the miracle of monarch migration from becoming a distant memory!