Doubling of wintering Monarch butterflies in the Mexican Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
"This is what happens when you have enforcement of the law, and economic alternatives for the inhabitants,"
- Omar Vidal, Worldwide Fund for Nature
Deforestation has decreased and reforestation initiatives have resulted in more than five million organically planted trees since 1997. Along with economic alternatives for the local communities as well as effective law enforcement against harmful practices, the future for the wintering Monarch butterflies seems bright.
Monarch butterflies fly more than 2000 miles from northern US and Canada in order to reach their wintering grounds in the forests near the town of Chincua in Mexico. Here they huddle close together on the tree boughs, waiting for winter to pass so that they can return once again to their summer grounds up north. However, these specific Mexican forests have annually decreased by hundreds of acres due to illegal and commercial logging, floods and droughts, resulting in considerably less wintering grounds for the Monarch butterfly.
In 2009 the number of butterflies was dropping at the rate of 75 percent, while at present we can see a doubling of the amount of butterflies in the same area. This is most likely the result of law enforcement as well as economic alternatives for the inhabitants, according to Omar Vidal, who works for the Worldwide Fund For Nature, an organization that has contributed to economic development projects such as tree nurseries in the bio-reserve. At the same time, the project “Forests for Monarchs”, an initiative taken since 1997 by the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project Inc., has lead to more than five million organically planted trees by the end of 2010.
Even though the Monarch butterfly is not endangered, experts say deforestation could jeopardize its continued existence. However, positive trends in recent times have spurred new hope for the protection of the beautiful Monarch butterfly, as well as bio-diversity in the region.
While the forests are important for the well-being of the local communities, there is also a mutual benefit to the ecosystem and the people.