The Monarch Reserve (Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve)

Map of Mexico with the preserve highlightedThe Reserve, designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, was created to protect the monarch colonies’ largest and most frequently established overwintering sites. No logging is permitted within the core zone of the Reserve, and only managed cutting is allowed in the buffer zone. However, illegal logging for commercial gain occurs in both areas. Governmental patrols strive to reduce illegal logging, but this is difficult given the isolation, the terrain, the complex local governance, and the economic appeal of timber. Irresponsible tree removal in the core and buffer zones creates ‘holes in the blanket’ subjecting the monarchs to a freezing death during occasional fierce winter storms, such as the mass destruction that occurred in January 2002 that killed a quarter of a billion monarchs.

Some projects have been initiated to reduce the need for foraging wood in the protected zones, e.g., establishing local woodlots and building more fuel-efficient stoves.

The residents have few sources of income and are dependent mainly on subsistence farming and cattle for their existence. Ecologically sound tourism (ecotourism) is providing an increasingly important source of income within and near the Reserve, but it requires a healthy monarch population and an awareness of sound tourism practices that don't increase forest degradation.


Lighthawk Reconnaisance Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve