Habitat Conservation 2011-2021
With MBF’s support, Alternare, along with ten local communities planted 22,515 trees on 21.52 hectares in 26 areas within the buffer zone of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve! Pine, oak, birch, and ash seedlings were extracted from 16 school nurseries, three community nurseries and one located in Alternare’s training center. Map of the areas that were reforested is below.
Aside from the reforestation, this year Alternare made two evaluations: 1) reforestation survival rates (i.e., once planted, how many trees survived) for the 2016-2018 period which resulted in an average rate of 62.19%; and 2) reforestation permanence (i.e., if the tree remains and for how long) for the 2011- 2015 period. Permanence was classified using three criteria according to tree presence: good (more than 50% trees present), moderate (30 – 49%) and poor (0 – 29% ). Of the 17 sites sampled, eight in an area of 24.75 hectares, presented good permanence, three in 11.7 hectares had moderate permanence and six in 18.41 hectares were poor.
Ecological Restoration in Sierra Chincua
Since 2012, the Monarch Fund with the participation of local communities, the MBBR’s Directorship, research centers, technical advisors and civil society organizations carry out reforestation initiatives in the monarch butterfly overwintering sites in Sierra Chincua, within the framework of the Good Management Practices for Conservation Programs and with financial support from MBF Monarch Butterfly Fund.
During June and July 2021 areas of the overwintering sites in Sierra Chincua and Cerro Pelón that have been affected by climate change were reforested with 10,000 oyamels. During subsequent months five additional hectares were reforested in Sierra Chincua and three in La Lagunita in Cerro Pelón. La Lagunita is the place where the first colony of monarch butterflies was found in 1975 so although it’s small, it’s considered historically significant.
Supported by MBF funding, Alternare and nine communities have reforested 23.6 hectares with 21,040 trees! The trees were grown and maintained in 21 school nurseries and seven in community nurseries. Locations of the reforestations are depicted on the map below.
Around 500 women, men and children participated, averaging 25 people per reforestation due to the physical distancing requirements necessary to comply with the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. An additional 10 hectares were reforested with 8,000 trees in Carpinteros indigenous community to restore the forest under their care as indicated by the forest management plan of the MBBR’s buffer zone. MBF is happy to see that the pandemic did not stop Alternare and the communities from maintaining the beautiful forests for the overwintering monarchs!! Additionally, we are pleased to report that none of the community members that participated in the reforestation or Alternare´s team have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19.
Three indigenous communities and three ejidos (communal properties) that live in and around the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) participated in our 2019 summer reforestation. We planted 22,905 trees on 20 sites in 21.5 hectares. The map below shows the locations of the reforestations (labeled with numbers and shown in red outline, visible if map is enlarged).
Six indigenous communities: Carpinteros, El Capulín, Crescencio Morales, Nicolás Romero, Francisco Serrato and Manzanillos reforested 28 hectares on 13 sites with 30,000 trees produced in collective nurseries. Below is the map of the reforested sites.
A total of 2,537 women, men, and children enthusiastically participated in the tree production process on 26 community and seven school nurseries. The planting was done with 594 people who also helped in the site selection. Communities asked to plant more pine trees since they can be managed more sustainably so 95.2% of the trees used in the reforestation were pines. Other species were included as well such as oak (0.2%), oyamels (1.5%), and alders (3.1%).
Overwintering Season 2017-2018
According to the report by CONANP-WWF (National Commission of Natural Protected Areas-World Wildlife Fund), the area occupied by overwintering monarchs in 2017-2018 decreased by 14.77% compared to last year. There were nine butterfly colonies (three in Michoacán, six in the State of Mexico), occupying 2.48 hectares.
From January to March, MBF board member, Isabel Ramírez, was also out in the field with her graduate students collecting data about the monarchs. A a researcher from UNAM’s Center for Research in Environmental Geography (CIGA), Isabel and her team collected data that will be used for four projects (see scientific research and monitoring below for more details).
Images from overwintering sites in Sierra Chincua and Cerro Pelón
Reforestation sites – 2017
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.
Habitat Conservation, 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.