Forest degradation in Mexico's Monarch Reserve decreases by 25.4% | WWF
Forest degradation in Mexico's Monarch Reserve decreases by 25.4%

Posted on 28 October 2019

Forest monitoring found that only five hectares of the core zone were affected, mainly due to natural causes and marginally due to clandestine logging.
Mexico City  Five hectares of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) degraded between March 2018 and March 2019, which represents a decrease of 25.4% in comparison to the 6.7 affected hectares recorded during the 2017-2018 period, according to forest monitoring carried out by the WWF-TELMEX Telcel Foundation Alliance, the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas (CONANP) and at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) Institute of Biology.
Clandestine logging decreased from 1.43 to 0.43 hectares, while losses from forest sanitation also dropped from 1.35 to 0.38 hectares in the same period. The main causes of degradation were drought and tree fall, which affected 4.19 hectares, with a slight increase compared to the previous year, when it registered a toll on a total of 3.93 hectares.
Jorge Rickards, WWF-Mexico's General Director, said: “Forest degradation declined because there was no large-scale clandestine logging, nor serious storms like the one that affected the Reserve in 2016. Its core zone has been conserved thanks to the commitment of local and indigenous communities, as well as brigade members, who monitor the forests in exchange for payment for environmental service, while we create options so that the Reserve is a source of life and development for the people.
“The main threats to the Monarch in North America are the reduction of the reproductive habitat in the United States, due to the diminution of the milkweed by way of the indiscriminate use of herbicides and land-use changes; forest degradation at Mexican hibernation sites due to historical clandestine logging and tree fall; along with the extreme weather conditions in Canada, Mexico and the United States," Rickards said. 
Gloria Tavera Alonso, Regional Director for the Center and Neo-volcanic Axis of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, said: “Through the permanent surveillance operation in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve that has gone on with the National Guard since 2016, they have carried out 1,280 tactical actions to reduce illicit environmental activities in the area. Similarly, ongoing attention has been given to forest fires, pests and diseases, with the purpose of maintaining forest ecosystem health in the region.”
She mentioned the Monarch Butterfly collective seal launched this year, which is made up of women and men from five community groups, in addition to the publication of a product catalog and a website to strengthen the creation of green jobs in the Reserve. “11 adaptation measures were identified through the Climate Change Adaptation Plan to reduce the vulnerability of forests where Monarch butterfly colonies hibernate each year and sustainable livestock projects are currently being developed to reduce impacts on ecosystems,” concluded Tavera.
During his speech, Víctor Sánchez Cordero, a full-time researcher at the UNAM Institute of Biology, commented: "The first study on changes in forest cover in the Monarch Region was carried out in 1999, as a scientific basis for the establishment of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, while the baseline to monitor the change in forest cover of the core zone of this Protected Natural Area was established in 2003. Periodic monitoring has been implemented since then, in order to provide economic incentives for conservation that the Monarch Fund gives to the owners in the core zone, which is where the priority sites for hibernation of this species in Mexico are located.”
These actions are part of a conservation strategy created 16 years ago by the WWF-TELMEX Telcel Foundation Alliance and the Mexican Fund for Nature Conservation, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as the governments of Michoacán and the State of Mexico, to promote long-term protection of the Monarch Reserve's forests. These benefits add to the CONAFOR environmental hydrological services payments.
Sergio Patgher, Telcel’s Brand and Social Responsibility Manager, recalled that, from 2003 to date, the Alliance has carried out work to strengthen sustainable forest management such as planting more than 14.9 million trees on 13,501 hectares of the Monarch region, which is a product of 13 community nurseries that create 300 jobs, and the creation of a network of 32 mushroom production centers.
The work has contributed to sustainable tourism in the region, as well as educating, training and equipping 39 forest brigades and dozens of service providers, who receive an average of 100,000 people during the hibernation months. All of which was done in close collaboration with CONANP.
“Societal involvement is key. That is why, in July 2019, thanks to the support of more than a thousand volunteers from Telcel, WWF and their families from Puebla, Querétaro, Guadalajara, Morelia, León and Mexico City, we planted 15,000 oyamels in the Monarch Butterfly Reserve, as part of the environmental awareness actions carried out by the Alliance,” said Patgher.
“In addition to the actions to conserve the Reserve, gardens, with native flowers for pollinators, have been planted in Chihuahua, Mérida, Morelia, Hermosillo, Monterrey and Tijuana in order to offer shelter and food to the Monarch during its migration. 1,300 volunteers from Telcel, WWF and their families participated in planting these gardens between August and September 2019,” highlighted Patgher.
The Reserve offers refuge to 132 bird, 56 mammals, 432 vascular plants and 211 fungi species. The region’s basins filter water to the Cutzamala System which is distributed to more than 4.1 million people in Mexico City and its metropolitan area, while oxygen is generated at the same time. This is in addition to the unique experience of observing butterflies during their hibernation.
The monitoring results are validated through field verifications by WWF, the UNAM Institute of Biology, the Monarch Fund, the Reserve Directorate, the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR), the Federal Attorney General's Office of Protection for Environment (PROFEPA) and PROBOSQUE personnel, along with community and ejido representatives.
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a Natural World Heritage Site that protects 56,259 hectares, 13,551 of which are in the core zone, between Michoacán and the State of Mexico, where priority forests are found in which the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) hibernate, after traveling more than 4 thousand kilometers from Canada and the United States.
For more information, contact: Jatziri Pérez, WWF-Mexico Communications Director,
Monarch butterflies in Oyamel pine forests, Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Mexico.
© / Sylvain Cordier / WWF