WWF Open Letter to North American Leaders calling for action to Save Monarch Butterflies

On Feb 13, WWF sent a letter to the leaders of US, Canada, and Mexico calling them to take immediate actions to save the monarch butterfly migration; studies indicates the area occupied in the hibernating sites is the lowest recorded since 1993.


Toronto, Washington DC, México City, February 11, 2014

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico
Barack Obama, President of the United States of America
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Scientific evidence clearly shows that the migratory population of the North American monarch butterfly –which travels more than 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) from the United States and Canada to Mexico every year– has declined to such low levels during the past decade that its survival is at risk.

World Wildlife Fund and Mexico´s National Commission for Protected Areas recently reported that the butterflies wintering in Mexican sanctuaries during the 2013-2014 season only occupied 0.67 hectares (1.6 acres) of forest: 44 percent less than the 2012-2013 season and the lowest occupation recorded since 1993.

The dramatic decrease of North American monarchs is the result of three main threats: deforestation by illegal logging at the Mexican sanctuaries, the reduction of their reproductive habitat in the United States and Canada as a consequence of milkweed eradication through herbicides (the plant which the butterfly larvae feed upon), and the extreme weather conditions along their migratory route.

Remarkable efforts by the Mexican authorities together with the support from Mexican and international philanthropists and businessmen have created sustainable economic alternatives for local communities resulting in a dramatic reduction of deforestation by illegal logging at the monarch reserve in recent years.

Nevertheless, conserving the monarch migration requires the immediate and decisive collaboration of our three nations. The Monarch Reserve, which encompasses the wintering sanctuaries, is not only a heritage of Mexico, but of all humanity, as acknowledged by UNESCO in 2008.

A plan is required with concrete actions to halt destruction of milkweed in the US and Canada, restore monarch habitat in all three countries, and strengthen law enforcement in Mexico to stop deforestation.

We respectfully urge you to commit to the long-term preservation of one of our most ancient and spectacular bonds during the upcoming North American Leader’s Summit next February 19 in Toluca, Mexico – only a few miles away from where the monarchs will be wintering simultaneously. This could be the last opportunity to agree upon immediate actions that will secure the spectacular migration of monarch butterfly of North America, symbol of cooperation among our three countries.


Carter Roberts, CEO, WWF-US

David Miller, CEO, WWF-Canada

Omar Vidal, CEO, WWF-Mexico