3 years ago



States is one of the

States is one of the most significant factors leading to the loss and degradation of monarch breeding habitat. The NAMCP provides recommendations for the three party nations to consider implementing, but explicitly does not impose any obligations on the parties, and its recommended actions primarily focus on developing studies and recommendations, not specific actions. For example, while the NAMCP identifies genetically engineered crop glyphosate use as a significant threat to migratory monarchs, its recommended action is to study and limit impacts of herbicides and insecticides on monarch populations and their habitat. In general the NAMCP establishes goals for study and future actions that as such cannot be considered adequate regulatory mechanisms. Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve The first reserve to protect overwintering monarchs in Mexico was established in 1986. In 2008, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to its list of World Heritage sites. UNESCO’s listing brought recognition of the significance of this site and efforts to protect the millions of monarchs who rely on it for overwintering habitat. However this effort is not a cognizable regulatory mechanism because it only requires voluntary actions, and because by its inherently-focused nature it cannot adequately address range-wide threats to monarchs, particularly those in the monarch’s summer breeding habitat in the United States. UNESCO recommends a principal focus on prevention of illegal logging on the property; additional areas of focus include achieving sustainable use of the property by making tourism to it more sustainable, involving local communities in benefit-sharing programs to incentivize conservation, and continued investment in continent-wide management of the migratory phenomenon. A 2011 UNESCO report indicates that these efforts have resulted in large reductions in illegal logging. The effort has also helped to develop infrastructure to better manage tourism. However efforts pursuant to this designation are voluntary and come in the form of recommendations. For example, in its list of requirements for protection and management at the site, UNESCO is careful to use “should” instead of “shall” when it offers suggestions such as “[t]he principal focus of protection and management should be to prevent illegal logging on the property” (see: In addition, UNESCO’s efforts do not adequately address the threats faced by migratory monarchs across their range, because its focus is on this one reserve and the surrounding area. Small-scale logging in particular remains a problem in the Monarch Reserve. Vidal et al. (2013) used aerial photographs, satellite images, and field surveys to monitor forest cover in the core zones of the Reserve from 2001 to 2012. They found that from 2001-2012, 1,254 ha were deforested (defined as areas with less than ten percent canopy cover remaining), 925 ha were degraded (defined as areas in which canopy forest decreased), and 122 ha were negatively affected by climatic conditions including winds, drought, fire, and floods (p. 180). Of the total 2,179 ha of affected area, 2,057 ha were affected by illegal logging, 1,503 ha of which were affected by large-scale logging and 554 ha of which were affected by small-scale logging. Monarch ESA Petition 86

Vidal et al. (2013) identify small-scale logging as an increasing problem for the Monarch Reserve, and suggest that a strategy needs to be devised and implemented as a matter of urgency to address the socioeconomic and environmental problem of both the monarch reserve and the region as a whole which suffers from severe poverty and lack of basic services: We suggest a substantive increase and more focused and coordinated action with regards to the payments for environmental services to the local communities and ejidos by the federal and state authorities as part of a long-term investment in sustainable economic activities, such as ecotourism and production of trees. Those investments should be better coordinated with the financial support provided by private donors and the monarch fund. Simultaneously, federal, state, and municipal authorities should implement a year-round and effective on-the-ground surveillance and law-enforcement strategy to avoid the resurgence of large-scale logging and to stop small-scale logging. Finally, we suggest implementation of a comprehensive, regional plan to create (and maintain) new and better job opportunities, improve and expand basic education for children and youth, improve basic services (e.g., sanitation, electricity, and water), all of which should be in partnership with the people living in the region and take full account of their needs and aspirations (p. 184). Slayback et al. (2007) also conclude that more protections need to be in place to safeguard the monarch reserve, stating: “The extraordinary site fidelity and extreme localization of colonies within such a small amount of available habitat underscores the urgency of implementing an ironclad conservation policy for this unique biological phenomenon” (p. 38). Direly, global climate change models predict that the entire current Mexican winter range for monarchs could become unsuitable habitat by the end of the century (Oberhauser and Peterson 2003, p. 14063, Saenz-Romero et al. 2012, p. 98). There are currently no existing regulatory mechanisms in place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid impending climate catastrophes such as the entire loss of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. Just as Joshua Tree National Park is becoming unsuitable habitat for Joshua trees, the monarch reserve is undergoing climatic changes that are expected to entirely undermine its ability to provide appropriate climatic conditions for monarchs. FWS and USFS International Efforts The FWS and the U.S. Forest Service both support international monarch protection efforts. FWS’ International Affairs office has been engaged in migratory monarch protection efforts through its Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico program since 1995 (see: This is a voluntary program and is focused on just a small portion of the monarch’s range; it is not a regulatory program. This program entails FWS partnering with and providing funding to groups in Mexico that support communities around the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve to protect this overwintering habitat. FWS is providing useful support to a training program administered by a local nongovernmental organization. The agency does not utilize its authority under this program to conserve monarchs or their habitat in their summer range in the United States where they are currently most threatened. Monarch ESA Petition 87

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