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Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve: 40% Decline in Illegal Logging; Threats from Climate Rage on

MEXICO CITY – Extreme weather events are adding a new, ominous threat to the monarch butterflies’ key wintering habitat in Mexico, according to a report released today by the WWF-Telmex-Telcel Foundation Alliance, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, and the Institute of Biology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The report finds that 72.3 hectares of forest in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve were degraded between 2015 – 2016: 74.6% due to trees falling from very strong winds and storms, 16.4% due to illegal logging, and 9% due to drought. During the same period, illegal logging declined 40% due to a combination of enforcement by the federal government and financial support to the local communities by the Monarch Fund, WWF and Mexican and international philanthropists and businesses.

“The decline in illegal logging is a positive sign and should motivate federal and state authorities as well as local communities to increase the efforts to protect these forests, which are critical for the recovery of the endangered migration of the monarch butterfly in North America,” said Omar Vidal, CEO of WWF in Mexico. “However, the violent winds and storms of March 2016 add a new and worrisome threat to the forests where the monarch butterfly hibernates in Michoacán and the State of Mexico.”

“Since the forests provide the microclimate needed for butterflies to survive the winter, illegal logging must be eradicated and degraded areas need to be restored,” said Vidal. “This would help the monarch butterfly to better adapt to extreme climate events, and also provide local communities with sustainable economic alternatives.”

Each November, the monarch butterfly travels from Canada and the United States to the forests of Mexico where it hibernates for about five months. The Reserve protects 56,250 hectares and its core zone (13,551 hectares – an area roughly the size of San Francisco) houses the hibernation forests. Extreme weather events have become an important threat facing monarch butterflies in North America, in addition to illegal logging in Mexico, and destruction of milkweed by herbicides in the United States.

“Since 2003 we have been supporting the protection of these forests through a conservation Alliance with WWF in which we have reforested almost 11,000 hectares of native trees produced in 12 community nurseries,” said Marcela Velasco, Marketing Director of Telcel. “Just last week, 600 Telcel and WWF employees and their families planted 5,000 trees with communities in El Rosario, Michoacán”.

About Telmex-Telcel Foundation
Through its numerous programs, the Telmex Telcel Foundation helps bring attention to key issues in the areas of education, health, environment, justice, nutrition, sports, natural disasters and traffic safety. Its objective is to contribute to improve the quality of life and development of citizens and their communities.

About WWF
WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit www.worldwildlife.org to learn more and follow our news conversations on Twitter @WWFnews