• Education and Outreach 2011-2016
Field Guide Workshops
Dr. Ek del Val de Gortari, MBF adviser, and her colleagues completed field guides for the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The guides will provide information to help visitors identify the most common species of butterflies, plants, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles in the region (click on each category to see the guides). Felipe Martinez, Director of the MBBR, Ek and plant experts, Dr. Guillermo Ibarra, and M.S. Guadalupe Cornejo, as well as reptile expert, Biol. Jonatan Torres, visited the El Rosario community to lead a workshop on how to best use the field guides. El Rosario has one of the largest butterfly colonies so naturally, the team started there. A total of 20 community members, including 4 tourist guides attended the workshop which involved a walk through the forest where participants identified plants and butterflies using the field guides. Ek and her colleagues distributed 2,500 guides (500 of each category: butterflies, plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians). The workshops will continue until the end of the month and English versions of the guides are planned for 2017. MBF is proud to be part of this outreach effort that will help share knowledge and information with local communities and visitors to the Reserve. Ek will work on the English versions in 2017.
Mural in Donaciano Ojeda Indigenous Community
Last year, the Mazahua Indigenous Community of Donaciano Ojeda approached MBF and asked for support for a community-building project that involved painting a mural in the communal house they all share. The goal was to paint a mural that shows the relationship of the community to the forest and the monarch butterfly. The community owns almost 700 hectares in the core zone and 1,300 in the buffer zone. Before starting the mural, the community gathered and discussed their accomplishments and what they wanted to include in the mural. Among the most relevant accomplishments include no illegal logging for 18 to 20 years, maintaining 80% of their forest cover in 600 hectares of the core zone and the ability to conserve water wisely making it available to the entire community. The community discussed their history and identified important places and things to include in the mural such as the primary mountain ranges and watersheds, the main church, wildlife (coyotes, deer, rabbits, and squirrels), their traditional attire among others. Monarchs are not only beautiful, but they serve to unite communities in common projects that bring joy and happiness to all!
Monarch Fund Brochures
MBF supported the Monarch Fund in their efforts to inform landowners about the benefits provided by the Fund and coming from the National Forest Commission. Communities signed agreements with both organizations to conserve their forests and will get payments for the environmental services their forests provide. The agreements only apply to the forests within the core zone and payments are given to communities that maintain a conserved core zone. The health of the of the forest cover is determined by the yearly monitoring performed by WWF.
Dr. Ek Del Val Gortari, MBF adviser and her colleagues, are developing field guides for the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to provide information that will help visitors identify the most common species of butterflies, plants, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. They are developing a brochure for each group with illustrations or photographs, including basic information about the habitats of the different species. The end product will be laminated field guides of the different groups of species which will be useful to promote knowledge of local biodiversity beyond the monarch butterfly and consequently promote forest conservation. The National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) is also providing information and will make reprints available when they are required. Once the guides are completed, Ek and her colleagues will hold workshops with forest rangers and tourist guides in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
As part of the “Red Monarca” (Monarch Network), MBF is pleased to support Fundación Razonatura in their proposal to “Develop an Online Documentation Center of the Monarch Butterfly Region.” This project will develop a digital platform to organize and classify information related to the MBBR and make it accessible to interested parties and society as a whole. Their goal is to have a documentation center hosted in the Monarch Network’s’ website with searches and bibliography about projects, research and general information about the MBBR. They will compile and classify the information received from different sources that make up the Monarch Network such as academia and non-profits, and institutional public information (CONANP, CONAGUA, CONABIO, etc.), media (newspapers, magazines, books, etc.)
Eneida Montesinos, who leads MBF’s eco-tourism workshops, held a 2-day workshop at San Mateo Almomoloa, in the State of Mexico in September 27 and 28. Forty people from the Piedra Herrada Community completed the workshop about monarch biology, migration, conservation, and best practices as tour guides including common English phrases to welcome tourists. Guest speakers included Eduardo Rendón from WWF Mexico who discussed the decline in last year’s monarch population as well as Rocío Treviño from Correo Real, a citizen science project that monitors the monarch migration in Northern Mexico.
Environmental Education and Monitoring Workshops
This year MBF awarded a grant to Geovida, a local non-profit that carries out workshops in the “Bosque Escuela” (Forest School) Educational Center located in the Emiliano Zapata Ejido in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve’s buffer zone. During October Geovida held several environmental education workshops and monitoring activities for 60 sixth grade students in the Amado Nervo Elementary School in Ocampo, Michoacán. Collaborating with environmental promoters from local communities and experts, workshops included activities in the school’s classroom as well as in the field. Among the topics included in the workshops were the UN’s Earth Charter Initiative, caring for the forest and the watersheds and the monarch butterfly’s migratory cycle. Children participated in diverse activities such as listening to lectures, drawing, watching videos, singing Lucas Miller’s (the singing zoologist) “Going Down to Mexico” (Spanish Version), planting medicinal plants, measuring tree diameters, among others. Click here to see photos of all the activities.
Educational Activities in Northern Mexico
With support from MBF and the Government of the State of Tamaulipas and the Urban Development and Environment Ministry of Tamaulipas, Pronatura Noreste, a local non-profit, carried out environmental education activities in four elementary schools in Jaumave (part of the monarch’s migratory route) during February-June, 2014. One thousand drawing booklets, a puzzle about the monarch butterfly’s life cycle and 500 posters describing different phases of the monarch’s life-cycle, their migration, the threats they face and recommendations on how to protect them were printed with funds provided by MBF. Personnel from the Ministry gave 44 Power Point presentations about the monarch’s biology, their migratory route and their flight through Jaumave to 1,216 students and 49 teachers carried out different educational activities. Everyone participated with enthusiasm as we can see in the images below. Pronatura will repeat this process in 2015 with seven smaller schools with 274 students.
In June 2013 Eneida Montesinos, who leads MBF’s eco-tourism workshops conducted an evaluation of her 2012 workshops described below. She asked participants for their feedback and we are happy to report that the results were very positive. Participants rated her workshops highly and stated that they learned a lot of information that they will be able to share with tourists and other members of their communities. Participants’ favorite activities were the games, learning about monarchs, and interacting with their classmates. We see the same choices in workshops in the U.S.
During October and November 2012 MBF collaborator, Eneida Montesinos held 6 three-day workshops to train eco-tourism guides in 6 communities within the Monarch Butterfly Reserve. As she was concluding her workshops she was approached by the Director of the Reserve who asked her if she was available to give a workshop to schoolchildren as part of the XXI Monarch Butterfly Festival. In collaboration with WWF and the Reserve Eneida gave one workshop which turned out to be a total success. Excited kids and teachers requested more workshops and Eneida ended up giving 6 additional workshops with a total participation of 950 kids! Even moms got excited and fifteen of them attended the workshop at Senguio. The smallest workshop had 80 kids and the largest one 250, averaging around 150 per workshop. This was an exciting twist of events which allowed Eneida to expand her workshops to schoolchildren! Lots of the material she uses to train guides in monarch biology was easily accessible to children.
MBF is excited to support these workshops which are not only engaging kids, school teachers and moms but are strengthening our relationships with WWF, the Reserve, and the local communities.
In addition to the eco-tourism and children’s workshops, MBF funded and participated in a workshop with members of four indigenous communities held on June 24, 2012, at Alternare’s Training Center. This workshop was geared to prepare communities for the 2012 reforestation season and was a result of a collaborative effort between MBF, Alternare, CIGA (UNAM’s Center for Environmental Geography Research Center), CIECO (UNAM´s Center for Ecosystems Research), and volunteers from HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) bank. MBF’s forestry advisor, Dr. Diego Pérez-Salicrup, conducted the workshop with help from our team member, Dr. Pablo Jaramillo.
Community members were divided into three working groups that were chaired by the HSBC volunteers. Each group was able to identify specific issues they wanted to address guided by topics suggested by Dr. Pérez-Salicrup. Workshop participants have carried out reforestation projects in the past and their willingness to share their knowledge and experience generated lively and informed discussions.
Discussions focused on three main topics:
- Why reforest?
- Challenges of reforestation planning, and
- Measuring seedlings.
The three groups had different motivations to reforest. One group explained that they use pine from the buffer zones to build houses and firewood, selling the remainder as railroad ties. They reforest former agricultural areas to harvest trees. Another group was concerned about increasing and securing their water resources for themselves and future generations. Traditionally, reforestation projects have been carried out in agricultural areas, but thanks to the workshop, community members realized the potential of these areas for forest recovery which could offer long-term financial benefits aimed at improvement of their short- and mid-term livelihoods.
The workshop ended with training on the appropriate techniques to measure seedlings. Participants measured seedlings from four different species, reported their results, and entered their findings into a computer program that allowed them to visualize the data graphically. They learned the importance of accurate measurements, and are now able to determine annual growth and survival rates of trees that they plant.
The workshop increased awareness among participants and improved their reforestation skills, but most importantly it corroborated MBF’s belief in the strength of sharing knowledge and collaborating with local people, academics, volunteers and organizations. Community members and academics speak the same jargon now and everyone understands what is meant by environmental services, watershed management, forest management and sustainability. These collaborations also break barriers between “city-folk” and “country-folk”, as we witnessed with the HSBC volunteers from Mexico City. The campesinos and the bank volunteers are now aware that keeping the forest ecosystem healthy is beneficial for everyone, not just people living in the countryside.
During November 2011 MBF conducted six separate three-day workshops in the states of México and Michoacán. Each workshop was tailored to the needs of a specific community, or Ejido, and for the most part, held in the community to make it easier for people to attend. A total of 139 men and women participated in the November workshops.
Education and Outreach, How We Started…
In a project partially funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, we established a collaboration with Mexican scientists and educators to develop an environmental education program appropriate for use in schools attended by the families in and near the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The program includes materials written in Spanish, included a book of monarch-related curriculum lessons, a book on monarch biology, and laminated cards illustrating the monarch’s annual migratory cycle.
We conducted five educational workshops for tourist guides from communities near the Sierra Chincua, Cerro Pelón, Herrada, Rosario and Popocatepetl monarch colonies in 2006-2009. This cooperative effort included WWF-Mexico, Biocenosis, UNAM, Profauna, Ecosport Mexico and the University of Minnesota.
• Reforestation and Other Activities During 2011-2016
Planting in Illegally Logged Forest
Ten hectares in Sierra Chincua were illegally logged in 2015. Concerned with the situation, MBF’s Isabel Ramirez, Pablo Jaramillo and their colleagues prepared a zone map of the deforested area, noting four zones that should be rehabilitated based on the severity of the damage created by illegal logging. Subsequently they were part of the multi-disciplinary group of researchers, government authorities and stakeholders that met with the Reserve’s Senior staff to determine the best remedial response. A team was assembled to plant oyamel and pine seedlings randomly to resemble the forest. For a detailed account of all the planting activities please click here. Finally, the 10-hectare area that was illegally logged was reforested and fenced to protect it from cattle grazing. MBF is grateful to Felipe Martinez for his support during the restoration planning activities and their implementation.
Reforestation, How We Started…
In the past, MBF worked in collaboration with the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project México (LCHPP-Mexico), a project conceived by Jose Luis Alvarez of Santa Clara del Cobre, México, and initiated in 1997 in partnership with Robert L. Small of California, the founder of the Michoacán Reforestation Fund (MRF). This project gives seedlings to local people (at no cost to them) to reforest lands, mainly in the buffer zone surrounding the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR), that have been denuded for agriculture and domestic timber consumption. Once the seedlings grow into trees they provide sustainable wood-lots for the local people, which may reduce timber cutting in the MBBR. The project also provides a source of income for the land-owners, improves the watershed, protects fragile mountain soils, and provides wildlife habitat. Periodically, trees are also propagated for and planted within the core zone of the MBBR.
From a kick-off donation from Robert L. Small, 7,000 seedlings were planted in 1997. News of the successful plantings spread quickly, and over the next 12 years over 600 farmers and 20 communities had participated, donating both land and labor to plant and raise trees at over 400 sites. During 1997-2009, 1,000 hectares were reforested with 3 million new trees.
Since Jose Luis Alvarez and MRF initiated the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project Mexico in 1997, other organizations have become involved. We planted 200,000 additional seedlings in 2009, with support from and in collaboration with one of those organizations, LCHPP-Inc., a non-profit formed in 2007 dedicated to forest restoration.
• Scientific Research and Monitoring 2011-2016
Dr. Cuauhtémoc Saénz (MBF adviser), Dr. Arnulfo Blanco and their students are working on their ongoing project to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting the assisted migration of natural populations of oyamel to compensate for climatic change in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR). To date, common garden provenance tests indicate that seedlings originating from lower altitudes elongate more and stop their growth later than those that originate from higher altitudes.
The altitudinal upward shift assisted migration provenance field test (with and without local bushes as nurse plants), that was planted
Nursery tests of seedlings that were collected along an altitudinal gradient (2950 to 3450 m) at the MBBR. In this new experiment different colored spoons were used to indicate provenance.
Evaluation of Community-based Resource Management
Doctoral student Miramanni Mishkin continued her research evaluating the success of community-based resource management, this time interviewing people from the San Juan Zitácuaro and Nicolas Romero communities. These communities were chosen because they have done a good job conserving their forests maintaining more than 80% of the dense forest cover over the last decade. Miramanni observed that the struggle to protect the forest is still a significant challenge since Nicolas Romero still faces illegal “ant logging” and San Juan Zitácuaro suffers damage to the fences they use to keep intruders out. However, the success of both communities in protecting their forests is due to the support they get from external institutions, their small size, and well-defined boundaries. In the case of San Juan Zitácuaro they have appropriate leadership and constant monitoring which adds to their success. It is important to identify these variables to be able to make recommendations to other communities so that they too become successful forest managers.
Dr. Cuauhtémoc Saénz, Dr. Arnulfo Blanco and their students continued their project to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting assisted migration of oyamel natural populations to compensate for climatic change in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
To test the altitudinal upward shift assisted migration, the team initiated a field experiment in July 2015. They planted 2-year old seedlings at an altitude of 3440 m to anticipate the climatic change expected for the year 2030. Additionally, this field experiment includes two treatments: seedlings planted with and without coverage of local bushes to test the feasibility of using nurse plants to protect young Abies religiosa seedlings from extreme temperatures. The research is ongoing and will provide valuable information to decide when it is viable to allow the forest to naturally regenerate and when to reforest.
Evaluation of Community-based Resource Management
This year MBF gave a grant to doctoral student Miramanni Mishkin to evaluate the success of community based resource management in the indigenous community of Carpinteros with regards to forest conservation in the Monarch Reserve. Carpinteros has a history of sound forest management and Miramanni wanted to discover what contributes to their efficiency.
Through interviews with the community and using a method called Bayesian Network Analysis she identified several characteristics that are influential for efficient forest management in Carpinteros. Among the most relevant features she found were small community size, well defined boundaries, appropriate leadership, shared norms facilitating social pressure and rule enforcement, fair resources allocation (thus discouraging clandestine use), locally devised and easily enforced access and management rules. The community also relies on low-cost exclusionary technology (fences), which aids in the physical protection of their forest boundaries and helps enforce the general rules of conservation established by the Reserve.
We are very pleased with the results of this research as it will allow us to identify the ideal attributes of communities that are successfully conserving their forest, so we can support and encourage other communities to do the same.
This year MBF funded a research project by Dr. Cuauhtémoc Saénz Romero and his students to discover whether there are significant genetic differences among oyamel trees in different altitudes to determine what the best seed and seedling distribution for reforestation programs.
Branches and cones of oyamel populations along different altitudinal zones in an area close to the Monarch Butterfly Reserve were collected and analyzed considering their form and structure. Results indicate that low altitude populations have shorter needles and longer cones than those at high altitudes. Consequently, the research team suggests reforesting in three provisional altitudinal zones using seedlings originated from each zone. If climate change is considered, sites should be reforested in the zone immediately above the zone where the seeds were collected to assist the migration of seeds. The results of his research were published in the Revista Chapingo, the University of Chapingo’s scientific journal and is available here in both English and Spanish. This research will be very useful to MBF and will help us improve our reforestation strategy.
The biosolids experiment set up in 2012 to determine how applying organic fertilizer (Bokashi) affects survival rates of reforested seedlings continues expanding. This year, Dr. Pablo Jaramillo will set aside 10 hectares in one community as an unfertilized control plot and 10 hectares in two communities where he will apply the Bokashi. In his field observations, Dr. Jaramillo has noticed that natural regeneration in specific areas results in less damage to the landscape and improved recovery of the forest. This year his research proposal includes signing agreements with two communities to set up a protection scheme in selected areas that will be left alone to promote natural regeneration of the forest. This will provide an initial baseline for future natural regeneration experiments.
During the summer 2012 season we set up two experiments to determine the optimal soil conditions for seedlings to thrive. Biosolids (organic byproducts) from dry latrines were obtained from Alternare´s Training Centre and transported to the field site.
One experiment includes biosolids, local soil and locally-produced seedlings, while the other experiment includes biosolids, bokashi (organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment), local soil and two sources of seedlings (locally and commercially produced). We have collected baseline data on seedling size and also soil samples for further analysis. We expect to collect seedling size data during the month of November after seedlings have endured transplant shock and the rainy season has ended.
The experiments were setup with communities that are ready and agreed to convert their agricultural plots into forest.
In 2011 we established a research plot to determine the factors that contribute towards reforestation success. In this plot we will evaluate survival rates of seedlings under different soil conditions and compare seedlings from community-managed nurseries versus commercial ones. The plot is being monitored to determine transplant shock and the correlation between the organic amendment and tree survival rates.
We have already found evidence that trees produced in community-managed nurseries are adapted to local environmental conditions and show less transplant shock than their commercially produced counterparts. We will continue collecting data along with survival rates in other reforested sites to compare and establish correlations and be able to determine the importance of soil management and site selection in the reforestation process. Results from this experiment will help us improve our understanding of reforestation dynamics and improve the survival rate of future reforestation projects.
Community members were involved in soil sampling activities and conducted the reforestation activities witnessing what will happen to plants they produced themselves and that will be planted in their land.
Scientific Research, How We Started…
Our efforts in monarch conservation in México started by providing financial support and scientific expertise as part of the advisory group convened by WWF-Mexico to design a new protected area for the butterflies. Advising the Mexican government, the group determined the habitat required for the long-term protection of migratory phenomenon and proposed new reserve boundaries congruent with the needs with the conservation of the overwintering colonies. From 1998 through 2001, we provided $26,000 to WWF-Mexico to support their research on optimal Reserve design.
• Sustainable Development 2011-2106
2016 Alternare Workshops
Training and community participation are at Alternare’s core and from June to October, a total of 17 workshops resulted in 74 fuel-efficient stoves, 2 community nurseries, 28 cisterns, and 4 dry latrines. This was an amazing accomplishment that empowered 184 women and 202 men from the indigenous communities of Crescencio Morales, Francisco Serrato, Carpinteros, Curungueo, Nicolas Romero and Manzanillo. Reforestation and tree -planting techniques workshops were included and enabled communities to participate in our reforestation efforts. It is encouraging to witness the increasing number of participants. Just like the trees our collective efforts are also growing!
2015 Alternare Workshops
Alternare wrapped up 2015 and started 2016 with loads of workshops and activities! Working with communities in the municipalities of Aporo, Angangueo, Irimbo, Ocampo, Jungapeo and Zitácuaro, they held 37 workshops with the participation of 261 women and 342 men. Workshop topics included forest and fruit tree planting and maintenance, organic fertilizer and vegetable production, soil conservation, computer software and entrepreneurship. These workshops resulted in the construction of six cisterns (four in the communities, two in schools), nine dry latrines (five in schools, four for families) as well as the establishment of two school tree nurseries. Cisterns enable communities to capture rain water for agricultural and personal use providing drinking water once it is boiled. In the words of Doña Leticia Carmona, from the San Francisco Serrato community, “Water used to be scarce and now we store it in the cistern and use it to irrigate the vegetables in our organic garden! It is wonderful, and we are very grateful!”
2014 Alternare Workshops
Alternare continues offering workshops to restore and conserve the forests and improve the standard of living of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve’s (MBBR) inhabitants. To reduce pressure from the forest and the natural resources of the area, Alternare promotes creating goods using alternative ecological techniques or what is known as ‘ecotecnias’ in Spanish. They focus is on reducing the use of water and wood resources; hence their training workshops emphasize these topics.
2013 Alternare Workshops
With financial support from MBF, HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) and other sources, Alternare held 50 workshops in 34 different localities in Michoacán and one in the State of the México during the first semester of 2013. A total of 833 women and 480 men were taught to produce organic fertilizer, organic vegetables, forest and fruit trees, and adobe. They also built dry latrines, cisterns, and fuel-efficient stoves. Other workshop topics included solid waste management, sustainable agriculture, water and soil conservation, and participatory community diagnostics, evaluation and planning. Their results were impressive; 15 cisterns, 61 fuel-efficient stoves, 14 dry latrines were completed along with 76 family vegetable gardens and one school tree nursery where 22,696 fruit and forest trees were retained for future reforestation.
2012 Alternare Workshops
Thanks to the generous donations we received from all our donors through GlobalGiving and the prize we received from Healthy Planet, MBF was able to support Altenare’s activities for 2012 with a grant of $12,500.
Among the activities carried out by Alternare were 28 workshops held in April and May to teach communities how to build adobe, fuel-efficient stoves, and cisterns, as well as techniques to produce organic fertilizer and forest trees. Participants enthusiastically embraced all the techniques learned and built a cistern for one community and another one for a school. The most exciting part was that after building 31 fuel-efficient stoves with funding provided by Alternare, more stoves were needed, and several communities raised funds on their own from the local and federal government to build 60 additional ones! More efficient stoves will decrease the need to use as many trees from the monarch wintering area, and provide more healthy cooking environments for local communities.
From June to August, Alternare joined us in our reforestation efforts and held 6 workshops on how to build fuel-efficient stoves and 2 on cisterns. This led to the construction of 62 stoves.
2011 Alternare Workshops
During 2011 MBF continued supporting Alternare’s ongoing activities engaging kids, teenagers, adults, men and women from local communities in sustainable activities. With support from MBF and other organizations Alternare was able to conduct eight workshops on forest tree production techniques and six on ways to improve tree planting from June to October. A total of 70 individuals (56 women, 14 men) participated in the former and 189 (70 women and 119 men) in the latter.