We support environmental education programs that lead to a greater understanding, appreciation, and support of the challenge of monarch conservation. Our programs focus on engaging communities in conservation by providing training as eco-tour guides and in reforestation activities. Eco-tourism workshops combine indoor presentations and hands-on activities with outdoor field work to raise awareness about the importance of conserving the monarch overwintering sites. Participants learn basic monarch biology, including information on the part of the monarch life cycle that occurs in the United States and Canada, as well as skills that will help them become tour-guides and engage in monitoring activities.
Monarch Fund Documentary
The Monarch Fund is celebrating 20 years of work in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) conserving the forest and supporting environmental services in the core zone of the protected area. With funding from MBF, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturales (FMCN), and the U.S. Forest Service, a documentary titled “Monarch Fund: 20 Years of Synergy for Conservation” is in progress. The documentary will show the how the Monarch Fund was established through interviews with the people involved in its development and those who currently operate it. Not only will it give a historical perspective but it aims to recognize the effort and commitment shown by the government authorities, non-profits and communities that own the forests, to work together to establish a permanent conservation mechanism by giving payments for environmental services, thus fostering the reduction of illegal logging and increasing forest cover in the MBBR’s core zone.
Beyond the Mexico Book Project
The Environmental Alliance of Georgia (EEA) is making progress with their book project with the help of Journey North’s Estela Romero. With the pandemic schools remain closed but once a week or every other week, teachers meet with students at the school to collect homework, exams, and answer questions. Taking advantage of this opportunity Estela is making plans to deliver her lessons to students and meet with small groups in open areas in the communities. Estela is writing about her experiences on her Journey North blog at https://symbolicmigration.org/. MBF provided the funds to purchase the materials for the lessons which cover topics such as the benefits of trees and the importance of conserving forests among others.
The Red Monarca (Monarch Network – www.redmonarca.org) continues updating its digital platforms including the Geographic Information and the Documentation Center. Activities, maps, scientific papers, and student thesis have been uploaded including the latest information from all the network’s partners.
One of these partners, Ambiente Cielo Rojo, continues working on the network’s audiovisual communication project. During the past year they have been working on a documentary titled “Maize Guardians: A Struggle for Food Security” which will be broadcast to the general public as well as local farmers, who are the major players in the conservation of the region’s natural heritage.
The documentary is expected to be completed by Spring of 2021. By promoting, motivating, and highlighting the importance of the work of farmers in maintaining the production of Creole maize, it will contribute to the conservation of Creole maize and the “milpa”-crop growing system used in Mexico. As part of this project five video capsules have been developed and can be viewed at https://redmonarca.org/capsulas_cielorojo/.
Climate Change Workshop in Zitácuaro, Mexico
The second workshop “Ecological Restoration Adaptable to Climate Change in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR)” was held on February 27 with the participation of 101 stakeholders that included representatives from agrarian authorities, civil society organizations, academics, and governments. MBF Advisors, Dr. Cuauhtémoc Sáenz and Dr. Diego Perez Salicrup, MBF board member Dr. Isabel Ramírez, were presenters.
The workshop was directed at property owners, forest technicians and government institutions to share results on the research that has been carried out in the MBBR and improve the capacities of key stakeholders working in forest management, protection, and restoration. The objective was to develop a forest restoration proposal that will be linked to the MBBR’s Management Plan, the Comprehensive Fire Management Plan, the 2014-2018 Monarch Conservation in Mexico Action Plan, and the Monarch Butterfly Adaptation to Climate Change Plan.
Audience at Workshop and Dr. Sáenz giving his lecture
Monarch Network Launches Video in Mexico City
On February 18, the Monarch Network released the video “Biodiversity: Beyond the Monarch” which highlights the amazing variety of species living in the MBBR. The video included the wildlife videos and acoustics recorded during 2016 as part of a project funded by MBF. During the event, the media and the public watched the video after listening to a tribute to Dr. Lincoln Brower given by Mónica Missrie from MBF. Presentations followed from several members of the Monarch Network including MBF Board member Dr. Isabel Ramírez discussing monarchs and climate change. The video is subtitled in English and was streamed in the U.S. and Canada. MBF is proud to be a member of the Monarch Network and to support the development of this video.
MBF Supports Environmental Alliance with Book Project
This year MBF is supporting the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia in a project titled “Beyond the Mexico Book Project”. This project is an extension of Monarchs Across Georgia (MAG), a literacy program which began in 2003. Grade-level appropriate science and nature-based books written in Spanish will be purchased and delivered to thirty schools (with an estimated 60 classrooms and 1,400 students) near the monarch sanctuaries of El Rosario, Sierra Chincua, and Cerro Pelón during the 2020-21 school year coinciding with the monarch migration. Along with those books, a monarch-related environmental lesson will be presented by Estela Romero, a resident of Angangueo and Journey North collaborator. Students will learn about the monarch life cycle, the importance of the overwintering forest, their declining population and their relationship with other animals and plants, emphasizing the importance of forest conservation. We are happy to support this environmental education project that will help develop reading skills and increase both nature and science awareness leading to more environmentally responsible Mexican citizens.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic schools in Mexico have closed but the project carries on as best as possible. On July Estela purchased 60 copies of books about trees which will be distributed among the children with letters describing the importance of trees and forest conservation. Still in development are a set of laminated picture cards highlighting about a dozen trees found in the region. Estela is speaking with local families and will ask at the ejidatario meetings in the different communities if there is a safe and viable way to deliver the lesson come November, as was scheduled initially.
Monarch Joint Venture—MJV
MBF continues to support the Monarch Joint Venture’s general operations supporting their mission-centered work. In the midst of dropping numbers for both the eastern and western monarch populations, the work of the MJV and its partners to increase and restore habitat is crucial. 2019 goals included restoring habitat, educating to inspire conservation action, and advancing science efforts.
Throughout 2019, the MJV partnered to provide professional development for 78 educators, reached more than 2,000 people at outreach events, and offered multiple webinars to hundreds of participants. Additionally, 180 people collected milkweed, nectar plant, and monarch data from sites in more than 23 states through the MJV’s Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program. This data is vital to shaping our understanding of how monarchs interact with their environment. In collaboration with partners, the MJV also developed tools to aid roadside managers in assessing and prioritizing pollinator habitats on transportation lands. The impact of monarch conservation is strengthened by the MJV’s focus on building partnerships and promoting collaborations. Working with more than 90 partners across the United States, the MJV annually prepares the Monarch Conservation Implementation Plan to collaboratively conserve the monarch migration.