Target: Silvano Aureoles Conejo, Governor of Michoacán, Mexico
Goal: Prevent further deforestation of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.
For millennia, monarch butterflies have followed ancestral migration routes, flying en masse from their summer habitats in the United States and Canada to overwintering sites in Mexico. However, according to noted monarch researcher Lincoln Brower, the monarch butterfly population has fallen by 90 percent in the last 20 years. The largest factor in this decline is loss of habitat stemming from deforestation in the monarch’s overwintering sites.
With the exception of the small western population of monarchs which winter in California, these butterflies rely on twelve specific mountaintop locations in Mexico. These sites are densely forested to provide the butterflies with habitat, water, and protection from the elements so they can gather in huge colonies to survive until the spring. Because of the importance and rarity of these sites, reserves have been established to safeguard the future of the monarchs. Recognized in 2008 by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán, Mexico is by far the largest and most important site.
Over the last few years, there has been evidence of illegal logging within the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Surveys and aerial photos taken in 2015 show that nearly 50 acres of pristine forest have already been destroyed by logging operations. Researchers seeking to better understand the reserve have been refused access to the affected area, raising questions regarding the reserve’s apparent inability to regulate activity within its supposedly protected borders.
The loss of this area of forest cuts into the buffer zone of the reserve. Monarch butterflies are sensitive to small variations in temperature, so maintaining their warm and stable winter habitat is essential to the survival of the species. While the current extent of deforestation doesn’t enter the most critical part of the butterfly habitat, it significantly reduces the reserve’s ability to minimize changes in temperature. Without these trees acting as natural buffers, the butterflies who live here are subject to harsher temperatures, resulting in many butterflies freezing to death.
The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve must crack down on illegal logging operations within its borders and devote itself to protecting the dwindling monarch population. Sign the petition below to bring this issue to the attention of the governor of Michoacán, and encourage him to make a positive change.
Dear Mr. Conejo,
Every year, millions of monarch butterflies migrate south to Mexico to form colonies and survive the winter. These butterflies require thick forests with little temperature fluctuation and an abundance of water. The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán protects the largest overwintering site, and over half of the monarchs that migrate to Mexico rely on this reserve.
Because of the importance of the butterfly reserve, deforestation has huge effects on the monarch butterfly population as a whole. Deforestation diminishes the ability of the forest to regulate temperature, and entire colonies of monarchs can freeze to death in the previously stable forest.
Monarch are beautiful butterflies with great intrinsic and ecological value, and their presence in Michoacán is also a huge draw for tourists and researchers. Don’t let illegal logging operations destroy this. Enact stronger protections for the reserve and stop this senseless destruction of priceless lands and animals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Hagerty Ryan