New strategies to protect the monarch butterfly are being discussed in Mexico City this week at a four-day meeting involving Mexican, United States and Canadian delegates.
Both government and non-government officials are looking to create a joint strategy to preserve the yearly migration of the butterfly, and its migratory and wintering grounds.
One of the goals is to identify allies in all three countries in order to create “regional, national and continental networks, facilitating dialogue between diverse sectors and encouraging cooperation synergies,” said a press release issued by the Environmental Secretariat, Semarnat.
Among the factors that have negatively impacted the numbers of monarch butterflies has been the eradication of milkweed plants through the use of herbicides, the change in land use — from wildlands to croplands — along the insects’ migratory route and external weather patterns.
The three countries had reached an accord in 2014 to create a top-level working group that would guarantee the preservation of the monarch butterfly and its migratory patterns.
The three governments have also been coordinating projects that focus on improving and rehabilitating the monarchs’ habitat.
Another contemplates the creation of communication strategies to raise public awareness about what can be done at the local level.
In Mexico, such efforts focus mainly on the preservation of the butterflies’ hibernation grounds, broadening the protected areas and strengthening the surveillance of forest areas among other programs.
Monarch butterflies travel 4,200 kilometers from forests in Canada and the United States to their wintering grounds in central Mexico, the forests of Michoacán and the State of México.
A study published in mid-2015 reported that illegal logging in the Monarch Butterflies Biosphere Reserve had increased 284% during the 2014-2015 season over the previous year.
The meeting in Mexico City began Tuesday and will conclude on Friday, and involves researchers, academic institutions, government agencies and civil organizations.
Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano is representing the Mexican government along with the National Protected Areas (Conanp) commissioner Alejandro del Mazo.
Daniel M. Ashe, director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is representing his government, while Elizabeth Rezek represents the Canadian Wildlife Service.
Those officials are being joined by Lucie Robidoux, manager of the ecosystems and sustainable communities program of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), an agency established by the three countries to implement the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the environmental side accord to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Migration numbers of the butterfly have been declining since the winter of 1996-1997 when a record 19 hectares of butterflies were recorded. The numbers are tracked based on the area of ground they cover when nesting in the forest cover.
That area measured just half a hectare in 2012-2013, but increased slightly to over 1.13 hectares last winter.
Source: El Sol de México (sp)