Trees for Monarchs Project
Several hundred million Monarch Butterflies spend the winter clinging to Oyamel Fir trees on a few mountain tops in the states of Michoacán and México. Waxy pine and oyamel needles shelter the monarchs, protecting them from moisture. When the butterflies become wet and temperatures drop to freezing, millions perish. Relentless logging has compromised the forest canopy that once protected monarchs. A growing human population around these butterfly havens and increased demand for wood gravely threaten the survival of the over-wintering butterflies, as well as the forest environment in general. Once cleared of the native forests, poor soils quickly become depleted and eroded.
Restoring forest in the buffer zones and other areas around the monarch’s overwintering habitat is a crucial step in providing stability to the region. Reforestation is being undertaken as part of a strategy to help secure the longterm survival of monarch butterflies. Our goal is to reduce the rate of deforestation in the monarch reserve by establishing alternative sites for wood to be sustainably harvested to meet the high demand that exists in the area for domestic and industrial wood use.
Highland Lakes Project
Lake Patzcuaro is one of the most important lakes in México for its role in the culture, ecology and economy of the region, yet experts call Lake Pátzcuaro a dying lake. Once believed to be the gateway to heaven by pre-Hispanic P’urhépecha, the lake has been poisoned by pollution and is shrinking from siltation by topsoil that washes down from small family agricultural plots on the surrounding mountainsides. Large scale erosion from the fields on its watershed have filled the western side of the shallow lake, making a peninsula of the island of Jarácuaro. Agricultural pollutants add to the effluents of numerous communities along the shore. Efforts to restore the lake can never be successful until the mountainsides are returned to forest, to the benefit of the environment and the land owners as well.
Smaller, but deeper than Lake Pátzcuaro, Lake Zirahuén is also being negatively impacted by pollutants and siltation. Rapid development of its watershed demands attention to reforestation of eroded adjacent mountainsides. The watersheds of both of these lakes are now an important part of the Forests for Monarchs reforestation program.