Monarch butterflies are arriving at their Michoacán and State of México sanctuaries in record numbers, but their future is under threat once again due to new reports of illegal logging.
A group of communal landholders from Cerro Prieto and Jesús de Nazareno, Michoacán, this week denounced the presence of logging crews in the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary, in the heart of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, where they cleared about nine hectares of forest.
After reports of illegal logging in May, residents became impatient over what they felt was a slow response by environmental authorities and took matters into their own hands by detaining three alleged loggers on November 5.
The three individuals were transported to Zitácuaro and turned over to the public prosecutor’s’ office. A few hours later they were released on bail.
The people living on the communal lands, or ejidos, are demanding punishment for those guilty of cutting down some 300 trees, as well as a stronger presence of security forces.
“The government should enforce the law,”said Eliseo Valdez Cruz, from Cerro Prieto. “How is it possible that they [alleged woodcutters] were detained, taken to the prosecutor, and then released on bail? This is a protected area. The law says that anyone caught felling trees should get five to eight years in jail.
“We demand more soldiers to put an end to this, or that [the authorities] grant us more power to take care of the forest ourselves.”
Gloria Tavera, representing Conanp, the national commission of protected areas, acknowledged the rise in illegal logging in the monarchs reserve, and that nine hectares have been affected in the Sierra Chincua area.
“Organized groups or lone individuals took advantage of the power vacuum during the change of elected authorities and illegally entered the sanctuaries. Today we’ve put a halt to this.
“What we’re working on now is a restoration strategy for that territory,” said Tavera, who is also the secretary of the Trinational Monarch Butterfly Protection Task Force.
Ignacio Millán of Profepa said the environmental agency has reports that only 100 square meters have been affected by illegal logging. He also said that the well-being of Profepa inspectors is at risk due to social conditions in Michoacán, and has asked for coordinated efforts between the armed forces and federal and state environmental authorities.
Millán also highlighted that there are areas of forest with uncertain designations: “Some areas have been declared national [federal], others of the state. At the end of the day nobody’s in charge.
“I believe that those lands should be either expropriated by the federal authority or intervened at a higher level by the [local] government.”
Source: Milenio (sp)